The pandemic forced us to rethink our ways of collaborating. In the latest digital transformation, we were forced to limit our team interactions to digital tools. One of the tools that push the boundaries of team communications is GitLive.
What problem does it solve?
Collaboration is complex topics on its own: there are millions of ways we, developers, interact with other developers that ultimately adds up to the quality of our end product.
When all developers work in a shared space (offices, or open spaces, or coworking spaces, etc), it is easy to just walk over to someone’s desk to ask a question. Or to run something by the team to make sure you are on the same page. The list may continue endlessly: you can quickly resolve a merge conflict by working together with another developer who wrote the file in question, you can have pair programming sessions, and so on.
While these do not seem like a big deal, such small interactions do add up. Over the course of the pandemic, how many times did you have to wait for a reply to your text message for a seemingly simple thing? Or have a call scheduled to discuss a problem that is no longer relevant when you finally do get to that call? Such flow interruptions scale with the number of developers in your team and can cripple even the most high performing teams.
How does GitLive solve these problems?
GitLive reduces the communications overhead of remote environments by bringing the developers closer together. What is the best way to bring developers closer together? In the IDE, of course!
We already spend the majority of our workdays in an IDE (VS Code/Jetbrains/Eclipse, etc), so it only makes sense that tools for developer communication would reside there. GitLive connects to VS Code and Jetbrains IDEs as a plugin:
GitLive integrates into IDEs of all team members, as well as the git repository itself. Once enabled, it lets team members quickly see what their teammates are working on, get alerts about imminent merge conflicts and have pair programming sessions. In the screenshot above, I (
j0hn-do3), am working on my repository (
educative-todo). I can instantly see that my teammate, Michael Krasnov, is also working on this repo, specifically the
master branch. I can also see what files he had modified and examine these changes.
This brings us to the most important features of GitLive: live collaboration, merge conflict warnings, and issue tracking integration.
This feature lets you connect to a teammate and work together on a single file (much like Google Docs). This is very useful for collaboration, pair programming sessions and onboarding processes.
It is very simple to start collaborating; just right-click a user in the GitLive plugin and click watch:
Once your teammate accepts the collaboration request, both your cursors will appear in the editor:
Merge conflict warnings and Issue tracking
Another useful feature is the automated warning when a merge conflict appears. This is particularly needed in large teams, when you may not be aware that someone else is also working on the same file. This warning should prevent those nightmares with huge conflicts and sleepless nights trying to resolve them by hand.
Last but not least, GitLive offers integration with the issue tracker of your choice (Github and Jira currently supported). Paired with real-time collaboration, it provides a way to direct effort towards specific tickets instantly.
GitLive is currently in beta stage and free for all users. Even though it is still in beta, I did not notice anything off about its plugins, they performed at an exceptional level. If you would like to try GitLive out, head to their website.