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slapdash

fastest way to work across your cloud apps

WHAT I DID
Web Product Design
WHO I WORKED WITH
CEO
WHEN IT HAPPENED
Jul 19 - 2 weeks
RESULTS
Cloud command line interface

INTRO

Slapdash is a re-imagining of how we interact with cloud applications. It’s a unified, uniform interface to be able to find, browse and organize information, regardless of which application it lives in. It is the missing layer for your work cloud apps (think Dropbox, Github, G-Drive, Docusign, Figma, etc.). In many ways, Slapdash is building something that is - metaphorically-speaking - an operating system.

Slapdash is a stealth productivity startup based in San Francisco. After being through YC and raising their first round of venture capital, they are currently developing their product in closed Beta. Disclaimer

CHALLENGE

The team at Slapdash had already built a strong and very efficient product with the following main functionalities :
• Browse all your web apps files directly on slapdash
• Organize your documents in Spaces (a folder containing data from different web apps).
• Basic search across your web apps

The next big step in slapdash’s development was to go further than just searching and browsing.
A pre-cursor to a GUI operating system was the command line, and our goal was to design a command-line like interface to be able to interact with the cloud apps in a uniform manner. We wanted to be able to perform basic search queries, but also be able to interact with apps like if we had a Unix shell-like CLI to them.

A CLI - powerful, but you don't want to use it

Research

There isn't anything quite like Slapdash out there, but some companies have great search or commands. I did a quick benchmark to find the most popular and complete tools available, then talked to users of these apps to understand which features they were using, which ones they weren't - and why. Here is how 4 solutions compare to each other on Slapdash's main KPIs: respectively Slack, Superhuman, Apple Spotlight, and Google Drive.

Search

Commands

Definition

The vision for the CLI was like "All Slapdash in an input bar. And more". Circling back between exploration and definition ended up being the fastest way to define our massive set of constraints clearly. In the end, here's what we found that we had to incorporate into the CLI to make it effective and delightful :

1. Natural language
If I’m searching for something, or want to do something, my query should be as close as possible to the way I would express orally.

2. Typeahead
I shouldn’t have to remember a query, nor execute the search to see its result. A typeahead is essential for both accessibility and speed.

3. Tokenized Arguments
A query can be quite complex, including keyword and arguments. To create a clear difference between them, they have to be tokenized.

4. Become the product's navigation bar
Whether you're just browsing your document, executing a search, launching an action, or even changing the settings, this should be doable using the CLI component, and always visible in the CLI if you're doing it another way. 

5. Be keyboard driven - but still accessible
Conventional CLIs are blazing fast but hard to use - which is why they're aimed at developers. We set ourselves the goal of combining this speed with a consumer-grade experience.

SOLUTION

I started assembling the blocks we had previously defined, going through countless design and testing iterations to find the most simple, fast, and future-proof solution. Here we go:

Start typing to search. Here is the typeahead, with keyboard shortcuts always visible.
Start with "/" to trigger Actions.
Searching for "Mockup" in Google Drive's Design folder
A complex search with keyword, apps, person, and time arguments
Browsing Dropbox items

result

The CLI is now the core of Slapdash. Whether you're just browsing through your could documents, querying a search, or triggering an action, you're going through the CLI.

I had a blast working on this feature. The design challenge was huge, and Slapdash's focus on speed only made this more challenging and exciting. Considering the large number of constraints we were dealing with, I had to really dive into the details and explore countless scenarios to make sure I had a solution that performed perfectly in every situation.