Working remotely allows a company to recruit from a wider area and afford greater flexibility and responsibility for employees. I really enjoy it. When working remotely it’s extremely important to focus on communication. It’s always better to over-communicate. At reInteractive we use plenty of tools to help us communicate more effectively. Most of them you’ve heard of before: Github , Slack, Pivotal Tracker , Skype .
I’d like to introduce a few tools that you may not have heard of that really help us out on a daily basis.
Obviously Skype and Google Hangouts are the big players in this space. Skype has recently switched group video calls to being a premium feature. Google Hangouts are great, but can be a bit of a pain to setup. Instead we prefer to use appear.in.
Appear.in is a very simple group video chat room website which relies on WebRTC. This means it’s only supported in Chrome, Firefox or Opera but that suits us fine. It works as well as Google Hangouts but its vastly easier to setup. Visit the URL for the room and you’re good to go. Appear.in also supports screen-sharing which is absolutely fantastic.
As remote developers it’s important that we be easily able to pair with each other on our Rails application. Occasionally we use Screen Hero for this, but sharing a terminal session is vastly easier using the excellent tmate. Tmate is based on tmux and lets you easily share your terminal with any number of people.
A vital complement to pairing is the ability to share your current Rails application with your pair or to share your development environment with your client or manager. We don’t have an office so asking someone to look over your shoulder is impossible. For this the excellent Forward is a great way of showing off your development environment to anyone with the correct public URL.
Do you have a favourite tool that maybe others haven’t heard of? Let us know in the comments!