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Connecting over code: collaborative tools for software developers

July 14, 2016 | POSTED BY Jodie Paradis

Software is big business. You’d be hard-pressed to find facts that say otherwise. In 2014, there were over 32,000 businesses in the software and computer services industries in Canada, providing over 327,400 jobs. 2 years later, and the numbers are still growing. Software engineers and developers make up a large segment of workers in the industry. They work alongside designers, project managers and other employees in supporting roles to conceive, build and maintain the software most of us encounter on the day-to-day: enterprise software, operating systems for personal devices, video and mobile games, and even software in our appliances.

 

Developers working on commercial software are rarely lone wolves; they collaborate to build a whole, with each developer working on their own puzzle piece. Their work contains a significant amount of details that make sharing and building upon each other’s work a complex endeavor. Cross-platform videoconferencing and digital communications suites provide features that allow developer teams to communicate in ways optimized for the minutiae of their work and their working style.

 

Quick information

An important feature integrated into modern-day videoconferencing suites is the chat or chatroom function. Ideal for smaller teams or sub-teams within a bigger company, chat allows developers to communicate short bursts of to-the-point information to their colleagues. Whether it’s for a quick confirmation, a request for bug fixes or changes, a meeting suggestion time or a casual joke to lighten up the atmosphere during a demanding project sprint, they are able to send and receive important information in real-time. This especially plays an important part during

 

In-depth communication

When it comes to calling meetings, videoconferencing has the finer points covered. Rather than herding a team of developers into a meeting room to discuss their work, videoconferencing allows team members to join virtual conference rooms from the comfort of their own workspaces, with full access to their individual tools. This paves the way particularly well for different training avenues, giving the opportunity for webinars and training sessions with externals experts or the sharing of expertise between employees.

 

Teams with remote members especially have the most to gain, as videoconferencing reduces the physical distance to a moot point, and allows team members in other cities or even other countries to feel part of the onsite team. Similarly, working with external designers, artists or other experts becomes a simple interaction.

 

Visual elaboration

The importance of sketching is often underrated in the workplace. Every individual in a company understands things differently, and verbal explanations sometimes just don’t cut it. Developers in particular have much to gain by using simple sketches to illustrate concepts, present snippets of code or create diagrams of user flows.

 

SMART boards are the 21st century version of the whiteboard. More advanced than your average digital display, they allow for quick and accurate digital sketching of an idea that can be shared across devices and during videoconferencing sessions. Presenters also benefit from a virtually endless digital space to write on, which makes it a breeze to explore several talking points at once, or in quick succession. Teams can pick up exactly where they left off their last presentation. They can also write and draw over practically any document format, from jpgs of reported bugs to PDFs of project requirements.

 

As much as software development involves working individually on specific features or segments of their product, all developers within software companies eventually need to come together to connect their respective parts and create a functional, viable whole. Videoconferencing suites offer several ways to do this, with features that facilitate communication across the board. Through short bursts of information when appropriate, or through video collaboration and connected presentations, developers and software engineers are able to communicate closely with their teams, benefitting from their shared skillset, expertise and support.

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