Introducing Quackpad – simple collaborative docs for teams using Slack

Every month at USV we have an internal hack day, where we work on various fun tech projects.  We hack on USV.com, we build internal tools, we play with fun new hardware, try out new APIs, etc.  It’s a nice change of pace, and an opportunity to get a little closer to the tech we spend most of the time talking about.

One area we’ve spent some time on recently is building tools for the USV Network.  We have about 60 active portfolio companies, and it’s Brittany‘s job to help them learn from each other as much as possible.  She’s the human router within the portfolio, matching up skills, questions, needs, and experiences.  As part of that, she runs over 50 peer-driven summits ever year across functions (engineering, mobile, people, trust & safety, etc), where members from each company come together to talk shop.

Each summit produces a long list of notes, follow-ups, questions, contact info, etc.  One persistent problem has been making that document accessible, hackable and shareable, both during the summits and afterwards.  Version 1 was a google doc later ported into a Yammer document for archiving.  We recently moved the portfolio network from Yammer to Slack, where we are now approaching 1000 members.  As part of that, we decided to see if we couldn’t hack something together using the Slack API to easily share docs across this large and diverse group.

Last Hack Day, we built a “login with Slack” workflow into USV.com, and created a simple CMS for group-editable documents using Firepad (an excellent open source collaborative document engine built on Firebase).  After doing that, we realized that it would be just as easy to open this up to anyone, regardless of their Slack team, and the result is Quackpad:

Screen Shot 2015-07-30 at 9.08.03 AM

It’s very simple: go to Quackpad.io and sign in using your Slack account.  You can create a simple group document that’s immediately shareable with anyone else who is a member of that Slack team (and not to anyone else).

It’s particularly good for Slack teams made up of people from across organizations, who wouldn’t otherwise have an easy way of sharing docs privately (vs., say, a company, where everyone is on gApps).

This is alpha software!  So use at your own risk and let Brittany and me know if you run into any trouble.

Big props to: Michael Lehenbauer from Firebase, the primary author of Firepad, the whole USV team and network for helping build this and test it, and Slack for having a really nice API to work with.

Enjoy!  (and vote it up on Product Hunt!)

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