Cover image for Slack is Killing Remote Screen Control

Slack is Killing Remote Screen Control

ben profile image Ben Halpern ・1 min read

After acquiring ScreenHero, Slack is officially abandoning the idea of sharing screen control between users. A lot of devs rely on this kind of functionality for remote pairing.

👉 Official Announcement

This kind of sucks because ScreenHero died in order to join Slack in the first place, so now we're left without anything.

To their credit, Slack suggested alternatives in their post.

Another alternative is Tuple, which is currently invite-only but is built by people a good rep in the software ecosystem. It's worth checking out if you were relying on Slack.

For discussion:

What are your thoughts on the whole situation?

Any other good alternatives you know of?


Editor guide

I find using VS Code Live Share for pair programming to be really invaluable as you can follow people as they type or you can go off doing your own thing while the other developer has access to your files, your terminal and local server to check things.


It’s awesome to hear that Live Share is working for your team! 🤗 The ability for developers to switch between editing the same file, exploring independent files, or both at the same time, is one of the key things we’ve found to be meaningful about Live Share, as compared to screensharing.

If other folks are curious about how this experience actually looks, I wrote a DEV article about that.


At this point i am too afraid to share the fact that i had no idea about this VS code live share. Thanks for opening one of those closed doors


We’ve suddenly been allowed to work from home three days a week, and our decision to test drive Live Share in the office a few months ago payed off very well.


I used ScreenHero a couple years ago with a colleague and we were quite peeved when they got gobbled up by Slack. And now Slack throws away ScreenHero's selling feature that really worked for us back then like a charm.

I wish startups like ScreenHero would just hold their breath and try to stand on their own feet for a while without agreeing to the next best offer. As far as I remember ScreenHero never made it out of private beta back then when Slack bought them. For bigger companies like Google, Facebook or Slack it's mostly just about extending their IP, getting new patents for cheap, and eliminating competition early on. For many of the smaller startups it also seems to be just about money, agreeing to the first big hostile takeover offer, and not so much about offering something new or solving the world's problems.


"Just about money." Creating a start-up requires hard work, substantial risk, and long hours. What do you suppose the biggest motivation for these things is?


I think this is a tiring argument. Not everything is or should be about money. There is more meaning to be found in life.

Can't feed my family with "meaning."

I disagree. You can make a good life for you and your family following ethics, moral and a meaningful job. The rest is just greediness.
Of course if they don't care about making something useful for the people and the only care about the money it's perfectly fine. But remember that there are lots of people in the world offering their lifes to help or serve others without caring about the money.

No, not everything is about money. But high-risk start-up businesses definitely are.

The only reason to go into business is to make money. If you simply want to help your fellow man, you volunteer your time somehow. There's absolutely nothing wrong with either one. Business is business, charity/volunteering is something different. I would not put up with the crap I do at my place of employment under any circumstances if there wasn't a paycheck coming in return. I have a family to support and it is my intention to do it as well as possible. You are free to have the opinion that work should improve the world if you feel that way, but I'm focused on my part of it when I'm earning paycheck. I also volunteer a very significant amount of time and energy in my community as well, but that's a separate activity.


FYI, a hostile takeover is one that the owners don't agree to.


tuple.app/ is building screenhero of the future if you are interested


Not exactly a screenhero of the future. Tuple most of the time is using at least 50% of the cpu spiking to 90-107% occasionally. Screenhero was not doing this, nor zoom does


Given that we're not big users of this particular Slack feature, I'd welcome this change if it really is in the name of a better overall video experience.

That being said, some of us do use it, and it is kind of frustrating to lose it and I could imagine it would be a big deal for some.


Oh wow. I was a big fan of ScreenHero before. It worked really reliably for me the few times I used it when it was ScreenHero, and I think Slack's implementation was always a bit behind. Guess I'll be using Zoom until I get that Tuple invite 👀


Yeah I know, you're the biggest fan on the team for sure!


My team is 50-50 distributed between San Francisco/Seattle (+ 1 in Vancouver) and we primarily practice pair programming. We were avid ScreenHero users prior to the acquisition, but since switched to using Zoom about a year ago. We typically work on Macs and use Jet Brains IDEs and I'd say it works well for that. Latency has been fine and quality/resolution is usually pretty good.

Other teams that use Linux here tend to use tmux + Vim, but the learning curve for that is definitely higher.

I'm interested in experimenting with VS Code Live Share too... 🤔


Bottom line is this is just a ploy to generate more revenue for the partners. It is a really bad decision as now we would have to purchase licenses for software just because we cant control the screen anymore. EVERYONE used it in our company for various things. Now we are stuck looking for an alternative and we DONT want 2 pieces of software.

They should have sent direct annoucements as well. This took us by suprise and really pissed alot of our staff off.


I usually use google meet/hangout to share screen with my colleagues. Works way better than slack :)


UseTogether is a good alternative.


I'm surprised to not see TeamViewer on this list. Is there any particular feature they don't offer that's important for devs?


Last I checked neither Slack nor Skype support this feature on Linux so there's no real loss.


Skype for business support it


VNC has existed for decades, and will continue to exist for decades to come.


I find it a bit hard to configure - you need a direct access to a port, which usually involves configuring a VPN as well and default settings have performance issues... TeamViewer is nearly perfect, a bit overpriced however....


Microsoft it's doing excellent tools and Microsoft Teams it's an excellent alternative to Slack.

Share desktop and control works like a charm. Did you see the new option to blur background?

Only bad thing it's use around 600 MB of memory.


The reviews of MS Teams is mixed, AFAICT. Other aspects of Teams (outside of conferencing) are rather poor. And yet another app loaded by default.

I think everyone is upset because Slack covered a huge need. I've seen a shop run on G-suite, Github, and Slack, because that's all they needed, besides a coffee machine.


Just go to MS Teams lol


Visual Studio live sharing works, and it's simple to set up.


Doesn't VS Code have some remote pairing functionality? I know it's not the same as full remote screen control but it might be enough for pairing in some cases.


Yep! It’s provided via an extension called Live Share. It’s not meant to be a replacement for screen share, but we’ve found it to provide an experience that works well for many devs. If you’re interested in learning more, I wrote an article on DEV about why we built it and why it might be interesting for pairing.


Definitely recommend Tuple.

Until you get an invite, try hangouts + tmate, especially if you are a vim-er.


Zoom is a great tool if anyone is looking for alternatives


We’re building USE Together, the mentioned alternative for pair programming. We’ve been working hard the last few years to make a complete Screenhero replacement tool. Check it out ;)


What was the primary use of remote screen control? Sorry didn't know that even existed on Slack


What was so great about screen hero? What is the problem using zoom instead?


Long live the Tuple 😎🤙


Google hangout as a good alternative and as I know GoTo Meetings have the same ability


Does anyone use repl.it? It does have a multiplayer function.


I think your title is misleading.

As we prepare to launch a faster, more reliable Slack calls experience, we’ll be removing the ability to share control of your screen during a call in early July.

They kill remote screen control only. Screen sharing remains.


Ah cool, sorry let me adjust the title.


That's totally fine!

As for alternatives, I've got to use Microsoft Teams at my current work place, which has remote screen control, however I use it very rarely, usually it's laggy and rather adds more confusion than it helps. If it was removed for more reliable and performant calls, I wouldn't probably miss it anyway.


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Samesurf also integrates features like HD video chat, in-page control passing, live messaging, enterprise grade encryption, analytics and screen recording to properly simulate the experience of being together in real life for an unlimited number of users. Specific use cases include remote support, fully interactive demos, webinars, onboarding, and sales presentations.

Samesurf’s integration ready offering is markedly improving conversion rates, handling times, satisfaction rates, transaction sizes and first call resolution rates. Meanwhile, our technology is
hastening the transition away from traditional screen sharing due to its (1) security profile (GDPR, PCI, HIPAA and ISO 27001 compliant without exposing the desktop or sensitive screen elements); (2) superior performance (1080px screen clarity featuring zero latency and no installs); and (3) ability to be easily integrated within existing customer journeys.