Native Coda notifications or via Slack?

How to inform others smoothly?

Christiaan Huizer

--

Allow me to admit that I am not a great fan of Slack. I was an early user and loved the concept (and the story behind it, Annie tells about). Over time the tool got refined to the extend that we can use Slack for almost anything. This great power became its virtue and its vice. Slack easily makes you feel overwhelmed and lost.

My perso preference might be recognized by many, there are even more people using Slack on a daily basis as a tool to help the moving through their work.

Notifications in Coda

I use Coda notifications because it is a native feature — advantages listed here, but I am not a great fan of how it works. Some limitations like not supporting hyperlinks make them unfit as a robust message tool. Notifications are pointers, the real message is in a table or on a page. In this blog I showed how to create notifications for birthdays taking into account the days left. All in plain text of course.

Some community members argue that Coda could level up and the arguments put forward elegantly, are a response to observation that Slack is using data to train its AI. I am not so worried. The day Slack prompts a suggestion based on data gathered elsewhere and it appears to contain sensitive information, it will be game over for Slack. They know that and will do all it takes to avoid this. I am rather confident it won’t happen.

A notification redirects to a source table, not to the view of the table, that is confusing. When the row or table is deleted, the notification is lost as well. Unlike chat or a message feature, notifications are linked to an object in Coda.

This object related element is the main reason for this blog.

Data integrity

My case concerns a a filled out form that arrives in a table. An automation distributes the values over various tables. We have two options, mostly we need the data, but sometimes we archive a request. In both scenarios, the row that came in, is removed from the receiving table since we only want to have the data once in our system.

How to inform the user?

You may argue that we should put a button in one of the tables that is about the data shared. This is possible to a certain extend. What about the archived table? We don’t want users here, not even when we create a user based filter. Some part of a doc are simply not meant for the normal user and only serve the admins.

The option I apply is creating a second table that has a user sensitive filter and there the message is shown. This notifications point to this table and the user reads the message.

how this works

It works, but it is clumsy.

The slack pack

The alternative here is the slack pack. Linking the user to the slack channel of the user avoids the creation of the helper notification table . Setting up this integration requires your attention, but is not difficult.

The easiest way forward is that you have button that is pressed. In this button you have now four options wrapped in a RunActions()

  • Follow-up or archive (depending on the content of the form)
  • Adding rows to a table
  • Send slack message
  • Delete the row

As you can read in my other blogs on notifications, packs add a layer of complexity to your work flow. In this scenario I assume this is okay, also because you may use this slack pack in various docs so you get used to the set up.

I hope you enjoyed this article. If you have questions feel free to reach out. Though this article is for free, my work (including advice) won’t be, but there is always room for a chat to see what can be done. You find my (for free) contributions to the Coda Community and on Twitter.

Coda comes with a set of building blocks ー like pages for infinite depth, tables that talk to each other, and buttons that take action inside or outside your doc ーso anyone can make a doc as powerful as an app (source).

Not to forget: the Coda Community provides great insights for free once you add a sample doc.

My name is Christiaan and blog about Coda. Since the summer of 2023 often (but not only) about how to Coda with AI. The latest major Coda AI update was on Dec 7, 2023. With the announcement of Snowflake as partner on April 10, I expect to see a new Coda AI logic put in place before the 2024 summer holidays. The current implementation is not sustainable.

Why I focus on Coda AI you can read here: ⤵️

May 15, 2024:

All the AI features we are starting to see appear — lower prices, higher speeds, multimodal capability, voice, large context windows, agentic behavior — are about making AI more present and more naturally connected to human systems and processes. If an AI that seems to reason like a human being can see and interact and plan like a human being, then it can have influence in the human world. This is where AI labs are leading us: to a near future of AI as coworker, friend, and ubiquitous presence. I don’t think anyone, including OpenAI, has a full sense of all of the implications of this shift, and what it will mean for all of us

--

--

Christiaan Huizer

I write about how to Coda . You find blogs for beginners and experienced makers. I publish about 1 / week. Welcome!