Fifteen years ago, most online collaboration and remote work involved email threads, Skype calls, and endlessly re-zipping projects for sharing after each iteration.
Things have changed a lot — many for the better (Google Docs!) and some things for worse (always-on messaging). Either way, it’s fair to say that a lot of the friction has been removed from remote work.
While other tools have moved ahead, real-time code collaboration has been a point of contention and viable solutions have only recently arrived on the scene. Developers working on the world’s top code editors have put forward their solutions, and they’re pretty good.
You might work on a distributed team and need collaborative coding tools to serve you every day — a category that suddenly includes most of us, thanks to COVID-19. Or perhaps you just need something for the occasional problem-solving session with a friend. Either way, you’ll find something you can use here.
1. Visual Studio Live Share
Visual Studio Live Share is Microsoft’s own real-time collaborative development solution for Visual Studio and Visual Studio Code.
Live Share allows teams to collaborate on a shared codebase, while maintaining the ability of each collaborator to navigate and work independently. While many code collaboration tools are bound to the host’s perspective, Microsoft’s entrant allows each person to navigate between files and make changes to code on their own terms.
Live Share can share your workspace, terminal, and local servers, and you can communicate over voice from within the tool. This is a polished option with other useful touches, like group debugging and a focus-and-follow feature that allows you to draw the attention of your collaborators. With a price tag of free, this choice is a no-brainer — particularly if you’re already a Visual Studio Code user.
2. Teletype for Atom
Teletype for Atom, an early entrant among real-time code collaboration tools, allows Atom users to share their workspace with team members.
While Live Share users can move around a project freely, Teletype is a little more host-centric. After the host opens a “portal”, their active tab becomes a shared workspace, and collaborators follow the host as they move between files. Teletype is well-suited to the pair programming use-case — with its driver and navigator model — but not as robust for all purposes as Live Share’s open-ended collaborative development environment.
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