How Software Developers Use Social Collaboration in the Agile Age
On the flip side, however, Twitter has become an "amazing tool" for Microsoft to learn what people are saying about its products—what they like, what's difficult and what's really good. "A great example of that is with our service business; we release updates every three weeks, and we've been doing this for a couple of years now," Bjork said. "We'll see the Twitter traffic trend up immediately after an update. And you can see if a new feature we put out there is exciting people. And when you've got something going wrong with a service or you've got problems, you instantly know by looking at different Twitter feeds and following different people and different tags. We watch Twitter to see how people respond to a new release." From a personal development perspective, Bjork said he uses Twitter to collaborate with folks around the world, to trade different coding patterns and different ideas that they have. He also noted that developers in his group spend a lot of time on sites like Reddit and Stack Overflow to make sure they're getting the right answers to questions and to make sure they're up on the latest ideas. "I see developers using that in their daily lives, but I don't see it being a center of their lives," he said. "It's not something they rely on every day; I think it's something they leverage as needed.""As a product manager, I could not know all the developers out there," said Luis Benitez, product manager for IBM SmartCloud Connections and IBM Connections. "But by using a platform like Stack Overflow, where I get to meet developers from all over the world, I get to learn interesting use cases of how people are using our APIs and SDKs to build whatever they want. So it's a good way to collect information and then funnel it to one of our developers," Benitez said. OmniTI's Treat concurred. "The one value that continues to hit home by all of these methods is that the larger tech community can provide you with more help and information that you can find within the walls of any company you might work at," he said. "Being able to collaborate with others and having secondary avenues to explore for knowledge are of great value to developers and really of value to business, as well." Moreover, the developer's social network world has turned into a massive mess, much worse than for typical workers trying to reconcile their Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn streams, Tasktop's Kersten asserted. "Their Agile project manager uses one tool; they use their own issue tracker; much of their social communication happens in code reviews; and defects and requirements are tracked [elsewhere] while conversations with customers happen in a ticketing tool," he said.
The sites are not only useful for finding information but for finding and meeting other developers.