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How to easily export your best Slack threads

Written By:
Michael Rouveure
February 4, 2021

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How can I download my slack messages?

If you’ve ever tried to cleanly save or export a slack thread, you might’ve realized—it’s nearly impossible! It’s frustrating to let threads get buried, threads you might want to reference for your blog content, newsletter inspiration, and internal company knowledge. Since there’s no built-in way to archive specific slack conversations for future use, we decided to make one ourselves.

I’m Michael, Head of No Code Engineering at Calm Company Fund, and I’m going to show you how to setup and launch your own Slack Thread Archiver without needing to know any code at all.



This guide will show you how to cleanly download and export your favorite Slack messages to any other document or database (like Airtable or Google sheets/docs.)

But first, let’s take a look at what this really looks like in a demo video:

Who is the Slack thread exporter for?

The thread archiver is a wonderful tool to export conversations out of Slack for you if:

  • You’re a founder using Slack and don’t want to lose any key data being shared.
  • You’re in a large team using Slack and want to save those precious team threads for later.
  • You’re running an amazing community on Slack and want to export unique member threads for later use in blog posts or newsletters for your members.

What tools will you need to export Slack threads?

Tools:

  • Slack: Obviously all starts there since this is about storing Slack threads.
  • Zapier: Automate and connects the apps.
  • Airtable: For this tutorial, we’re going to use Airtable as a place to store exported threads. You can choose anything else Zapier compatible

Coding knoweldge level? Easy

Time estimate to set up? 3 hours

Our step by step guide to export Slack threads

Let’s get started.

#1. Create a Slack Directory in Airtable

1.a) Since we want to export threads from Slack that include multiple users (Because it’s a thread), then we need to know who said what in the thread. It all starts with a directory in Airtable that contains the users in our Slack. So let’s make it.

  1. Sign-up or login to Airtable.
  2. At this point, you can either create a new base called “Slack Directory” or add a table to a base that already exists. In either case, call the table “Slack IDs” so it looks like this:

TIP: You could even create a new base in Airtable called “Slack threads” and create a table “Slack IDs” within the base. This way, you would have all your exported threads (Which comes later in this tutorial) and also your Slack User ID directory all in the same base.

What’s a base in Airtable >>>

What’s a table in Airtable >>>

Let’s move on.

1.b) In your newly created table “Slack IDs”, we need to create the following columns:

  • Slack ID (As Single line text)
  • Name (As single line text)
  • Email (As single line text or email, doesn’t matter)

Your table column titles & types should look like this:

1.c) Export a copy of your users from Slack

  • In Slack app, go to “Settings & Administration”

  • Click on “Manage members”.

  • Click on “Export Member List”.

And voila, you will get a downloadable list of all your Slack members.

1.d) Import your Slack users to your “Slack IDs” table in Airtable.

There are a few ways to import data if you have a lot of users.

Whichever way you do it, make sure you assign the values to the appropriate columns such as:

  • Name > Name
  • Email > Email
  • Slack IDs > Slack IDs

So not Slack IDs > Email, otherwise, you’re already game over and have had too many rum punches.

#2. Login/sign-up to Zapier

If you don’t already have a Zapier account, it’s time to create one. Otherwise, login. Things are about to become real.

#3. Create a zap with a "New reaction" trigger via Slack

Our first step is to create a trigger event based Slack emoji reaction.

3.a) Choose app and trigger event with the following settings:

  • App: Slack
  • Trigger event: New reaction added

3.b) Authenticate your app

3.c) Set up trigger

  • Choose a reaction (This is the react emoji you will use in Slack to choose threads you want to export – choose anything you want).
  • Leave “Channel” and “User” settings blank (Unless you only want a specific user to be able to make the reaction trigger).
  • IMPORTANT: This trigger only works on public channels. So nothing private folks.

3.d) Test your trigger.

If for any reason the tests fail, don’t panic, it’s totally normal. There is a known Slack bug related to emoji Slack reactions when testing and most of the time the tests fail… Such is the way of life…

If this happens >>> Skip the test and move on! (Otherwise, you’ll be like me trying to solve something you can’t for hours…).

#4. Add step with app "Code by Zapier"

Yep, things are about to become seriously hardcore. Grab a coffee or Rum Punch like myself and get ready to do a ton of stuff.

In this step, the most important, we’re going to give you the secret sauce that brings this automation to life and makes it all happen. You will become a black ninja level no-coder. If you don’t understand anything, that’s okay, pretend like you do, paste what we tell you to and keep it moving.

4.a) Make the action event “Run Javascript”.

4.b) Set up action

In section “Input Data”, set the three followings settings (Check the screenshot below to understand what I am talking about):

channelMessage Channel ID (Taken from New Reaction Slack trigger)tsMessage Ts (Taken from New Reaction Slack trigger)threadTsMessage Thread Ts (Taken from New Reaction Slack trigger)This is super case sensitive – Don’t mess it up!

Example below:


4.c) Paste the below code in the code section:

const getReplies = async (channel, ts) => {
 const params = new URLSearchParams({
   token: 'xoxb-xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx-xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx',
   limit: '1000',
   channel,
   ts,
 });

 const res = await fetch(`https://slack.com/api/conversations.replies?${params.toString()}`);
 const json = await res.json();

 return {
   response: json,
   replies: json.messages
 };
};

const getSlackMembers = async (ids) => {
 const uniqueIds = Array.from(new Set(ids));
 const params = new URLSearchParams({
   filterByFormula: `OR(${uniqueIds.map((id) => `{Slack ID} = "${id}"`).join(', ')})`,
 });

 const res = await fetch(`https://api.airtable.com/v0/xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx/Slack%20IDs?${params.toString()}`, {
   headers: {
     'Authorization': 'Bearer xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx',
   },
 });
 const json = await res.json();

 return {
   response: json,
   records: json.records,
 };
}

const {replies} = await getReplies(inputData.channel, inputData.threadTs || inputData.ts);
const slackIds = replies.map((reply) => reply.user);

const {records} = await getSlackMembers(slackIds);
const slackIdToName = {};
records.forEach((record) => {
 slackIdToName[record.fields['Slack ID']] = `${record.fields['Name']} (${record.fields['Email']})`;
});

const formattedMessages = replies.map((reply) => `
${slackIdToName[reply.user] || `[Unknown Slack user: ${reply.user}]`}:
${reply.text}
`.trim());

output = {
 replies: JSON.stringify(replies),
 formatted: formattedMessages.join('\n\n'),
};

This amazing code was provided Kevin Ingersoll, a member of the Calm Company Fund community.

Take a look at the code you just pasted, there are three sections of code marked with “xxxx” that represent links/tokens that we will need to come back to and replace later:

Slack App Authentication token:

token: 'xoxb-xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx-xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx',

Link to your Airtable base & table:

fetch(`https://api.airtable.com/v0/xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx/Slack%20IDs?

Airtable bearer token:

'Authorization': 'Bearer xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx',

But before we can replace anything, we need to move on to the next step and create a Slack app which we will use strictly for authentication purposes. Keep it moving.

#5. Create Slack app

In order for us to actually connect all that code we did previously, we need a Slack app as a means of authentication. So off we go.

5.a) In Slack, go to “Settings & administration > Manage apps

5.b) Click on “Build” at top of screen.

5.c) Click on “Create New App”.

5.d) This window will pop up, enter correct settings:

  • App Name: Give your app the name you want. I like “Slack Archiver” but do what you want.
  • Development Slack Workspace: Choose the Slack workspace where this app will operate. A.K.A “Your Slack”.

5.e) Now that your app has been created, we need to set a few settings and copy some information.

Click on “Basic Information” in menu if not already on this page.

5.f) open “Add features and functionality” and click on “Permissions” section.

5.g) Click on “Install to Workspace” to install the boat on your workspace and get the Oauth Token.

5.h) Boom, you can now see your “Bot User OAuth Access Token“.

Copy the token and paste it in the code we pasted earlier in the Zapier Code step.

You need to replace the below section between ‘xoxb-xxx’ with your new token:

   token: 'xoxb-xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx-xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx',

This is where you get the token:

Moving on.

5.i) Scroll further down on same page all the way to “Scopes” and click on “Add an OAuth Scope” in the “Bot Token Scopes” section.

5.j) Choose two permissions only.

  • channels:history
  • reactions:read

so end results looks like this:

5.k) Time to actually install the app in each channel you want in your public Slack channels where you want it to operate.

  • In your Slack, go to the channel you want. Click on “Details” in top right corner.

  • Click on “More”.

  • Click on “Add apps” and install your new app in the channel.

  • Rinse and repeat for all PUBLIC channels you want to install the new Slack app/bot in.

Congratulations, you’ve now created and installed your first app!

#6. Update code in step "Code by Zapier"

Earlier on, we created an Airtable to store all our user Slack Ids, we need to update the code to that Airtable Base/table and the bearer token for authentication so that the step “Code by Zapier” will function properly.

Update the link to your Airtable Base and table in the Javascript Zapier step “Code By Zapier”.

To do this, go to this link right now >>> https://airtable.com/api (You do need to be logged into Airtable).

  • Find the base for your Slack Threads and click on it (Keep scrolling down).

  • Find the base ID and copy it!

  • Now that you’ve already copied the base ID, in Zapier, go to the Javascript step (Code by Zapier) and paste your base ID in the code section that looks like what you see below in the “Code by Zapier”. Replace the xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx section with the Base ID.
fetch(`https://api.airtable.com/v0/xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx/Slack%20IDs?
  • Replace the xxxxxxxxxx with your own Airtable bearer token in the Javascript step (Code by Zapier).
'Authorization': 'Bearer xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx',

Here is how to get your bearer token >>>

By now, you’ve replaced the following in the code section in the Zapier Javascript step:

  • Airtable Base URL.
  • Airtable API Token.
  • Slack app/bot API OAuth token.

Congratulations on making it this far, about 90% of everyone else has drowned themselves in rum by now.

#7. Save the thread in Airtable

This is it, the final easy step.

Smooth sailing from now on. All that’s left is to save our Slack threads in Airtable.

7.a) Either make a new base and create a table called “Slack Threads” or simply add this table to the base you created earlier. Call it whatever you want, this won’t affect automations.

7.b) Add some nice columns as shown below:

  • ID: Make it a simple “Autonumber” column.
  • Message TS: Make it “Single line text”.
  • Thread: Make it “Long text”.
  • URL: Make it an “URL” – Not too difficult.
  • Date Added: Make it “Created Time”.
  • JSON: Make it “Long text”(You may be wondering what this is? Well its cool, it will store the core code of this zap call so you could maybe one day do some crazy stuff with it, it’s the source).

7.c) Create a new step in Zapier “Create Record In Airtable”.

7.d) Authenticate your Airtable App with Zapier (This should have been done earlier when creating the Slack User ID directory).

7.e) Setup action.

  • Find and select the correct base.
  • Find and select the correct table.
  • In Message TS, insert “Message TS” from step 3 in Zapier (trigger > Slack emoji reaction).
  • In Thread, insert “Formatted” from step 6 in Zapier (Javascript).
  • In URL, insert “Message Permalink” from step 3 in Zapier (trigger > Slack emoji reaction).
  • In JSON, Insert “Replies” from step 6 in Zapier (Javascript).

It should look exactly as below.

  • Test the zap and make sure the actual thread shows up in a row in your Airtable table within your chosen base.

If it worked, congratulations!!! If it doesn’t, then you may have missed something in the above instructions, check it all again and check what errors Zapier is mentioning.

If you’ve made it past Step 7, you have become a no-code ninja and have an amazing tool for your company to use to create all kinds of great content.

If you’re using this tool, please share it with us on Twitter @earnestcapital @tylertringas @michaelrouveure! We’d love to hear how you’re using so much magic at your fingertips.

Keep it moving

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