Slax project management blog image by Revelry. Gears and highway with cityscape

From Ruby Roots to Elixir Excellence: Inside Our Slax Project Management Tool

Every software development team has its unique set of challenges when it comes to project management and communication flow. Enter **Slax**, our bespoke Slack command tool that marries the functionalities of GitHub with the instant communication of Slack. Initially crafted in Ruby, we ventured into the robust world of Elixir to remodel this essential tool, expanding its features with crowd-favorites like Poker (for issue scoring) and issue lookups. The metamorphosis not only revolutionized our internal workflows, but also serves as a beacon for other teams seeking to refine their software development processes. In this post, we’ll look at the evolution of Slax and demonstrate its value-add to teams, showing how adoption could revolutionize organizational efficiency on a broader scale.

Modernizing an Existing Project Management Tool

Embarking on a project to modernize an existing tool like Slax involved both an assessment of current needs and thoughtful consideration of potential future needs. The Revelry team also faced the task of transitioning Slax from an older Ruby stack to the more concurrent and maintainable world of Elixir – a choice resonant with our growing proficiency in the language. With Elixir’s easy-to-read syntax and pattern matching capabilities, upgrading to new features – like websockets for real-time notifications – became achievable with grace.

The technological migration of Slax from Ruby to Elixir is a tale of pragmatic transformation. Ruby’s contribution to Slax was invaluable, offering readability and developer-friendly tooling that blazed the path for rapid initial development. However, as the intricacies of our processes expanded and the need for more concurrent operations became apparent, it was clear that a change was necessary. Elixir, with its BEAM (Erlang Virtual Machine) underpinnings, promised superior performance in handling multiple user requests and real-time updates – a leap in efficiency for Slax.

Leveraging Elixir to Ensure Reliability, Expedite Feature Development

The selection of Elixir for Slax’s reincarnation wasn’t arbitrary; it was a result of meticulous evaluation. Elixir’s syntax draws inspiration from Ruby, mitigating the learning curve and easing the transition for developers. But beyond mere syntax similarity, Elixir’s functional programming nature and famed fault-tolerance is where the real value lies. The ability of Elixir systems to self-heal and continue operation even when parts fail is pivotal, ensuring our Slack commands are dependable around the clock. For a tool as crucial as Slax, which integrates deeply into our daily workflows, reliability isn’t just a feature – it’s a requirement.

Before it became our all-encompassing Slack command center, Slax was intended to be an additive tool for our repositories. The initial concept for Slax: Be a library we could pull into our projects, point a Slack App to some unique endpoints, and have access to some custom slack commands (and create new ones on the fly). Eventually, we moved away from that initial design to focus on recreating the custom workflow features we use companywide. Features like issue lookups and the Poker system are no longer just handy tools; they’re integral to our sprint plannings and daily operations. 

A marked triumph in upgrading Slax to Elixir was the tangible ease with which new features could be designed and iterated. A prime example of such an enhancement is the Pull Request (PR) lookup feature. Just a skip away from issue lookup, such enhancements were seamlessly integrated, thanks in large part to the well-organized codebase and the shared Elixir expertise across our teams.

Accelerating Decision Making with Real-Time Data

The impact of Slax on our day-to-day business cannot be overstated. It has eliminated redundancies, expedited project updates, and enhanced decision-making with access to real-time data. Through its growth, Slax has also retained its organizational agnosticism, allowing for easy extension and customization to external partners. This adaptability is indicative of not only a robust internal tool, but also a solution ripe for adoption by any team that relies on Slack and GitHub as keystones of their workflow.

Innovating to Support Ease in Product Development

In reflection, the transformation of Slax from Ruby to Elixir symbolizes more than a mere transition between programming languages: it represents Revelry’s ongoing commitment to innovation and efficiency in product development. As we harness the collective knowledge and creativity of our engineering team, Slax has become an indispensable asset; and for other organizations looking to bolster their operational toolkit, Slax stands as a testament to what’s possible with modern technologies and shared vision. Its potential reach extends far beyond our walls, offering a model for others to create a seamless bridge between the immediacy of Slack and the structured universe of GitHub. 

While this post has looked at Slax’s journey and current state, the horizons for further exploration and improvement in the world of development tools are boundless – limited only by the ingenuity of communities like ours.

To learn more about Slax and other tools in Revelry’s product development arsenal, let’s connect.

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