Nataliya Muriy
Marketing Content Creator - you name it, she'll write it!
Posted on May 23rd 2017

If a developer was ever viewed as a hermit buried deeply in his or her screen, such a notion can no longer hold ground. In the XXI century, web development does not imply an activity that is necessarily done individually. At the same time, collaboration goes beyond using a white board, a task list or a project management tool, with instant messaging or even video calls not being good enough either. We are now in the era of collaborative coding (source).

What are the benefits? Even a decade ago, Bruce Cropley mentioned a whole array: an improved discipline, morale and flow (two or more people working together keep each other going), as well as a better code — errors are detected more easily. Every participant has much to contribute and a lot to gain from shared knowledge. Besides, an increased team cohesion can further facilitate the level of collaboration (source).

How can it be done? There are many tools at our disposal and yet not many can fully live up to your expectations. For instance, Kobra and Firepad allow you to share a file for collaborative coding, but we’re talking a simple file or even just a snippet, which isn’t good enough for enterprise solutions (those are much more complex, with a lot of dependencies). Besides, for more complicated issues, seeing the context is a must — the problem that needs solving may not be in that one piece of code but perhaps in the user interface layout, so it’s necessary to see the whole code in the IDE. This is where CodeTogether will come in just a few months from now!

How will it work? First of all, you expose your file — you share the content of your file (the actual file stays on your IDE on your computer) — and a link is generated so that the host (the original coder) can pass it on to the participants (those joining in for the collaborative effort).  You can share exactly what you want instead of an entire screen.

Once the participants are all looking at the same code, they will be able to navigate: jump to Method, Definition, or Classes, and at the same time see what everyone else is doing. Three different work modes will be available:

  1. Observe — useful for supervision purposes.
  2. Observe and Explore — will allow to see what changes are being made and make comments on others’ work.
  3. Observe, Explore and Edit — will make not only observation and comments possible, but also the ability to actually change code.

As mentioned above, this collaboration does not occur in a cloud (unlike with Cloud9, for instance), but instead in your IDE. How might that be, you might wonder? Isn’t working in a cloud the way of the future? It probably is and yet, most developers are currently working with their local IDEs, and the cost of migrating to a cloud IDE is simply too high at this moment. Right now there are no tools that allow for direct collaboration in the IDEs. That’s where Genuitec has come to the rescue with its new CodeTogether — now you can share your work, help others and get aid yourself, no matter if you are working with Eclipse, Webstorm, InteliJ or even Visual Studio Code, or any of our IDEs (Angular, MyEclipse, Webclipse).

Communication is key during this process, and our team is working hard to implement a voice chat. So… summer 2017 is bringing more ood stuff into the web development world — an ability to share the programming wealth!