6 Collaborative Coding Tools for Remote Pair Programming

Originally published at: https://www.sitepoint.com/collaborative-coding-tools-for-remote-pair-programming/

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 — most things for 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.

One traditionally high friction area has been cracking real-time code collaboration. But that's been changing in recent years as developers working on the world's top code editors have put forward their solutions.

Whether you work on a distributed team and need collaborative coding tools to serve you every day, or just need something for the occasional problem-solving session with a friend, you'll find something you can use here.

1. Visual Studio Live Share

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 easily — nobody needs to clone a repo, and everyone can use their own development environment. Each person can perform actions like navigating between files, making changes to code, selecting text, and see them reflected for everyone immediately.

Live Share shares everything from files to terminals and audio, offers features for collaborative debugging, and is free. If you're already a VS Code user, this choice is a no-brainer.

While you're at it, check out our VS Code extension recommendations for JavaScript developers.

2. Teletype for Atom

Teletype for Atom

There’s also https://codeshare.io/ which works pretty well when it’s up. It’s free and doesn’t require any sort of login.

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I’ve also worked on this small project that allows collaborating on a terminal session.
Basically, it works something like this: I start that command line tool, it generates a secret URL, I share that URL with my remote colleague, and then they have instant real-time access to my terminal. The remote person doesn’t need any special tool, and no accounts/signin is needed.

I’ve been using few times in pair programming, or pair debugging on something that was only available in the terminal: raspberrypi serial connection, etc :slight_smile:

If anyone is interested, more info and the source code are here: https://tty-share.com/

Coders are more and more used to live video or video screencast, and there are tools that are now taking advantage of it. Some people may use youtube or twitch but it’s not for team collaboration. Gitduck collaborative coding integrates code+video+comments and a new and exciting way. It may not be for everybody but it’s worth a try specially for remote teams.

Gus is another collaborative code sharing site that I have been working on - currently you can run Python and write code in many different languages.

CodeTogether is a new, interesting solution where the hosts can start a session from within Eclipse or VS Code, and guests join from any modern browser. It’s a code focused solution, so even in the browser, guests get code navigation capabilities, responsive editing, content assist, validation … most features that you would expect in an IDE. Getting started is pretty straightforward, something you must try if you’re using either of these IDEs (support for more coming soon).

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