Remote work has become the norm for millions of developers. The 2023 Stack Overflow Developer Survey highlights this trend, with at least 41 percent of its respondents reporting that they work remotely and another 42 percent working in a hybrid setup. So, in the contemporary software industry, you'll almost certainly work at least a few days a week away from your team.
In this context, effective remote team collaboration is a necessity for every modern developer. To help with this, new remote collaboration software has emerged as a solution in order to create cohesive dev teams despite the distances.
This article is a roundup of the top five code collaboration tools, providing an introduction to each and comparing them based on the following criteria:
- Core features offered
- Ease of use
- Support for third-party integrations
- Platforms supported
- Use of AI
- Ability to reduce context switching
- Acceleration/ease offered to dev workflow
Pieces is a first-of-its-kind productivity tool that solves one of the biggest pains with remote collaboration with other devs: creating, managing, and sharing code snippets.
To start using Pieces, you can download the tool for your preferred OS or platform. Pieces is supported on every major OS as a desktop app (Linux, Windows, or macOS) and across a huge variety of other tools, like your browser (Chrome or Edge), your IDE (JetBrains or VS Code), and Microsoft Teams.
Getting Pieces is free and easy. All you need to do is download and install it, then set up your snippet preferences, specifying which coding languages you normally use and how you would like to search through your snippets (e.g., string of text or natural language using AI):
After this process, you can immediately start saving your snippets. Consider the following scenario: you have a code snippet that you use often in your code, which you save somewhere using your machine's note-taking app. The problem is that you might struggle to find the same snippet again in your sea of notes, and this approach can rapidly become a mess once you have a bunch of snippets you need to save.
Say you want to save the CSS reset you use in all your web apps. With Pieces, all you need to do is click the Add Snippets button on the bottom of the screen:
Then, simply paste your code and see it appear in the tool:
AI is a big part of Pieces, and you'll be able to use it as a companion for a multitude of tasks. For example, Pieces provides a copilot AI engine called Pieces Copilot that can explain code snippets or even add inline comments in natural language so that you're aware at every moment of the purpose of each snippet.
If you need some inspiration for some useful snippets you may need, Pieces offers snippet collections for every major coding language. Once you have a few snippets saved, you can search through them using the tool's internal search feature. You can search through your snippets by coding language or exact string, and even use natural language processing thanks to the Pieces AI engine:
If you want to share your snippets with somebody, Pieces allows you to create shareable links to send code to your teammates along with AI-enriched data. This feature is also available when using Pieces with remote collaboration tools like Microsoft Teams.
Apart from improved collaboration, this functionality makes Pieces one of the best companions for technical writing as well. You can easily share snippets with your audience, accompanied by AI-generated information.
Alternatively, you can compile a collection of reusable snippets for your articles or leverage the transformation feature to create boilerplate code templates frequently used by your team and share them (for instance, when writing technical documentation).
Overview of Pieces:
- Core features offered: Pieces lets you save your snippets, share them, use AI-assisted snippet search, browse snippet collections, and employ AI info generation for your snippets.
- Ease of use: Pieces is very easy to use, especially thanks to its support for a large number of platforms you're already familiar with, such as Chrome and VS Code.
- Third-party integrations: Chrome and Edge extensions, Obsidian extension, JupyterLab extension, VS Code and JetBrains extensions, Microsoft Teams extension.
- UI/UX: Pieces offers an easy-to-use, central desktop app to manage your snippets and a lot of extensions to save them with ease.
- Pricing: Pieces is 100 percent free, with a pro plan coming soon.
- Platforms supported: The Pieces desktop app works on Linux, macOS, and Windows. However, with the previously mentioned integrations, you can make it work wherever you need it.
- Use of AI: Pieces greatly supports the use of AI to provide natural language processing (NLP) snippet searches, give context to your snippets, and ask questions about your code.
- Ability to reduce context switching: High; You can easily save your snippets from your IDE, browser, or writing tool without interrupting your workflow.
- Acceleration/ease offered to dev workflow: Pieces is great for reusing code you may need in the future, for sharing code with your peers, and also for sharing code with a technical writing audience.
Why Use Pieces for Remote Work?
Managing code snippets efficiently is essential for remote work. It allows you to share knowledge between you and your peers, create better documentation, and have an organized way of saving relevant info for you and your team.
2. Visual Studio Live Share
Visual Studio Live Share is an extension for the popular Visual Studio Code IDE that allows developers to bring their peers into their editor. You can send an invite link to let your colleagues write, edit, and debug code as if they were in the same physical location as you. This removes the challenges of working remotely when it comes to pair programming and brainstorming together.
Overview of Visual Studio Live Share:
- Core features offered: This code collaboration tool offers real-time paired programming, live code editing, code writing, and debugging.
- Ease of use: Very high; you just need to install the extension and invite your peers.
- Third-party integrations: Visual Studio Live Share integrates with dozens of coding-related tools you would normally use in Visual Studio Code, like CodeStream, Live Server, and Quokka.js.
- UI/UX: Basic UI experience embedded inside the editor.
- Pricing: Visual Studio Live Share is completely free.
- Platforms supported: Visual Studio Code.
- Use of AI: Not supported.
- Ability to reduce context switching: High; all you need to do is invite a peer into a shared coding session to start collaborating immediately, without ever leaving Visual Studio Code.
- Acceleration/ease offered to dev workflow: Visual Studio Live Share enables faster access to pair programming sessions with your peers.
Why Use Visual Studio Live Share for Remote Work?
VS Code is the preferred IDE of millions of developers worldwide, including probably you and your team. Its official Live Share extension allows you to initiate quick remote pair programming sessions directly within the IDE, giving you the same remote coding experience you're used to without resorting to additional code collaboration tools.
Replit is a coding platform with an online IDE that relieves the burden of developing software locally on your machine. No downloads, no config, no setup. Replit's online code editor makes it extremely easy, especially for beginners, to focus solely on building your projects.
Additionally, Replit offers a few powerful features to level up your coding. The IDE offers a collaboration suite to write code in real time with other devs, share code snippets, and edit files together. Plus, you will be able to power up your code with the help of Ghostwriter, Replit's built-in AI chat that will help you create, edit, and debug code.
Overview of Replit:
- Core features offered: Replit provides an online IDE with no setup or downloads needed to create a project, easy project deployment, an AI coding chat assistant, and live code sharing and editing.
- Ease of use: High, thanks to Replit hiding every tedious setup detail from its users.
- Third-party integrations: Not supported.
- UI/UX: An intuitive web app.
- Pricing: Free for single users, starting at $15 per member per month for teams.
- Platforms supported: Web platform and access from a mobile app for iOS and Android.
- Use of AI: Extensive, thanks to its AI code-writing assistant.
- Ability to reduce context switching: High, thanks to its all-in-one online editor and AI assistant that's ready to help you when you struggle.
- Acceleration/ease offered to dev workflow: Replit offers a faster development experience thanks to its AI assistant and removal of setups, making it especially useful for beginner developers creating solo projects.
Why Use Replit for Remote Work?
Replit is a great choice for code collaboration online thanks to its shared coding environment. With real-time code sharing and instant feedback, team members can work seamlessly from different locations. Plus, the code collaboration tool's cloud-based setup removes the burden of running projects locally, avoiding a lot of configuration issues you and your team could have across different machines.
Codeanywhere is a cloud-based IDE that allows teams to collaborate remotely on their projects in real time. The platform provides developers with all the comforts they're used to when working locally on their code, with support for all the languages supported by VS Code, autocomplete, code refactoring, a fully featured Git client, and a marketplace of code extensions.
In addition, you'll get the advantages of working in the cloud, like remote work collaboration in real time with your peers using pair programming, shared terminal sessions, or by sharing part of your code in real time.
Overview of Codeanywhere:
- Core features offered: Codeanywhere provides a fully featured cloud IDE that lets you modify files directly on the server. It offers support for real-time pair programming, sharing your code, and spinning up containers on the cloud, as well as a fully featured web-based terminal.
- Ease of use: New users may encounter a steeper learning curve due to the cloud environment.
- Third-party integrations: Codeanywhere has support for all the main coding-related tools (CI/CD tools, databases, and code management tools).
- UI/UX: An easy-to-use web app.
- Pricing: Varies greatly based on the features you need and your team size. Prices start at $150 per month for a standard team of ten devs.
- Platforms supported: A web app and a mobile app.
- Use of AI: Not supported.
- Ability to reduce context switching: Yes, thanks to its capability to start real-time pair programming sessions on the cloud.
- Acceleration/ease offered to dev workflow: With Codeanywhere, pair programming is more accessible, and it's easier to share code snippets and collaborate on parts of the codebase.
Why Use Codeanywhere for Remote Work?
Similar to Replit, Codeanywhere's cloud environment will help your remote team work without the hassle of configuring local machines. It also has the added advantage of offering live pair programming support or shared terminal sessions.
What if you could pair program with your peers while still using your preferred IDE? CodeTogether offers this feature with an extension supported by every major IDE (VS Code, Eclipse, and IntelliJ). With CodeTogether, you can host a pairing session in seconds, set the access levels for your peers, and watch them collaborate with you in the style of Google Docs.
This tool provides a highly customizable experience for your session guests. You can decide which files they can open, whether they can edit your code, and even set their tests and terminal access.
Overview of CodeTogether:
- Core features offered: CodeTogether offers cross-IDE pairing sessions, file editing in the style of Google Docs, access settings for guests when hosting sessions, shared server terminals and consoles, built-in video call tools, and encrypted calls.
- Ease of use: CodeTogether requires a small learning curve to learn how to use the tool.
- Third-party integrations: CodeTogether allows you to use any third-party integration you want with your preferred IDE.
- UI/UX: An easy-to-use integration for your favorite IDE.
- Pricing: Free plan with sessions limited to sixty minutes. The team plan starts at $8 per user per month with time limits and no guests.
- Platforms supported: VS Code, Eclipse, IntelliJ, browser access.
- Use of AI: Not supported.
- Ability to reduce context switching: High; the tool has a built-in video call service, and it allows devs to never leave their preferred editor.
- Acceleration/ease offered to dev workflow: With CodeTogether, pair programming is easier, and it's easier to collaborate in large dev groups and set guest permissions.
Why Use CodeTogether for Remote Work?
Sometimes you and your remote peers will have different IDEs in use but still require a pair programming session. CodeTogether allows you to work with your peers in whatever IDE you prefer, giving you a wide variety of options for granting your colleagues permission to access your environment.
Where to Go from Here
In 2023, efficient remote code collaboration tools are a must for every great development team. In this guide, you learned about the top five collaboration tools for coding and what they can do for you. If you want to improve every step of your workflow, don't forget to check out Pieces.
Pieces is an all-in-one productivity tool that will revolutionize the way you save and curate your code snippets. With Pieces, you can own a personal micro-repo of snippets, save them for later use, share them with your colleagues, generate code based off of those snippets, or even use them in technical writing to engage your audience.
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