How Software Developers Use Social Collaboration in the Agile Age

By Darryl K. Taft  |  Posted 2014-07-07 Print this article Print
social collaboration in Agile development

Microsoft also provides a code review tool that allows you to initiate a code review before you check something in and take that through a series of reviews with people and they can comment on that code and approve it. This creates a workflow that is collaborative. Microsoft also provides a lightweight code commenting feature that enables developers to annotate their code and share it with others.

"It's powerful because it creates an interactive time-shifted conversation," Bjork said. "You can see who has made different comments on the code over a timeline, and you can learn from that. That lightweight ability to enter a piece of code and mark it up is really powerful for developers and is a great collaboration tool."

Other major vendors, such as IBM, do things in a similar manner. However IBM employs its own collaborative development environment, Rational Team Concert, along with its social business tool, IBM Connections.

"What happens is, every time a new product is created, we associate that with a community in Connections," IBM's Benitez said. "That way, developers can interact seamlessly. We've become more agile because the sales people or the field teams can post questions on Connections and the developers can get answers directly from the platform where they live. They live and die inside Rational Team Concert," he said. "We also use Connections to create a community of developers where they can all communicate with each other, ask questions, share best practices and share tips and code," Benitez said.

Konrad Lagarde, manager of partner integrations for IBM's SmartCloud Social Business, said developers at Big Blue also use IBM Sametime to communicate with each other in real time and ask and answer questions as well as to share pieces of code in real time.

"We have large customers out there using these products for the same purpose," Benitez said.

"What's neat is it's more than just developers" who need and use these tools to collaborate, Lagarde said. "You've got the product managers, the release managers, the testers, etc. You're breaking down the barriers between these teams that were passing things over the fence before. Now everybody's in it together."

Like Kersten, Microsoft's Bjork said the movement toward Agile and open-source development has drastically changed the software development process.

"The Agile movement has pushed us to find new and better ways to help development teams," Bjork said. "And that's not just developers, but that's software engineers, that's testers, that's product owners. We want to create ways for those people to interact, collaborate and talk about their work all the time and find low-barrier-to-entry ways to do that," Bjork said.

Moreover, "the open-source movement has created a different conversation around code." he added. "Where it used to be a different conversation about protecting my IP and not letting anybody see my code before, now it's about sharing my code and getting it in the hands of others. Because I know if I get my code into the hands of other people, the code will get better."


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