Onboarding Developers: Four CodeStream Tips

Michael GershMichael Gersh
April 23, 2021

More collaboration. Better transfer of knowledge. Increased team transparency. Earlier code reviews. These things are helpful to all developers on a team, but can be especially valuable to new hires. Here are four ways CodeStream accelerates onboarding.

1. Discussion Begets Discussion

New members to your team may be hesitant to ask questions about what they are working on for a number of reasons. A newcomer may want to impress others, maintain or earn “rockstar” status, and do it all without assistance. Or maybe they simply feel like asking questions is interrupting others or taking them out of the flow. With many communications tools, particularly those that live outside of the IDE, responding to questions does require a costly context switch and can indeed be an interruption. But with CodeStream, asking a question is as simple as highlighting a block of code in your IDE and typing a comment just like on a Google Doc. The code author is at-mentioned so the new hire doesn’t need to figure out who to ask. The highlighted code snippet is included in the comment and others can simply click on the block in the comment to go right to those lines in their IDE and easily respond, in context. 

Since asking and asking is easier and less interruptive with CodeStream, it happens more often. Further, by making this type of code discussion super-simple,  everybody on the team will communicate more leading to a more collaborative culture. Asking questions and discussing code can become commonplace and encouraged. Newcomers can become strong contributors faster, and everyone wins.

2. Shift Left Code Reviews Improve Quality

There are numerous studies, presentations and webinars out there all touting how smaller, more frequent, and earlier code reviews improve code quality. This applies to everyone on the team, not just new teammates. But that new teammate is especially prone to perhaps writing some code that doesn’t follow some well-established internal standards, and many times much work is done before the problem is detected. 

CodeStream’s Feedback Requests allow for quick continuous code review without the friction of commits and PRs. If the new developer is assigned a project that may require updating a dozen files, FRs allow for smaller reviews that can be done every one or two files along the way. When it comes time for the PR there are no costly surprises, and everyone can avoid the discomfort of requesting a redo or accepting tech debt because there is no time for a redo.

3. A Knowledge Base for your Codebase

A side benefit of implementing a vigorous code discussion culture and using Feedback Requests to review code is that CodeStream saves that information right along-side the codebase. Legacy code comments (/* like this */), when used properly, are effective as a form of documentation for one simple reason: the comments appear right next to the code they refer to. The same is true for your team’s CodeStream discussions, with an added benefit: It’s a conversation where someone actually had a question that needed an explanation, instead of having guessed what part of the code needs explaining. As a byproduct of all the discussions, a new developer browsing the code will have instant access to more of the team’s collective knowledge. 

4. Transparency via Live View Eliminates Surprises

CodeStream’s Live View lets you see what everyone on the team is working on. Let’s say your new hire is assigned a project but then you can see that they’re changing 2 or 3 files that have nothing to do with the work assigned. Even before a Feedback Request from the newcomer, you can check-in, offer help, and course correct.  From the perspective of the new hire, Live View provides access to the big picture in a more technical file-by-file way that complements some verbally provided status updates at a stand-up. Getting “who does what” up to speed is expedited.

Summary

Whether you work with a large enterprise where developer turnover is a constant reality, or you’re at a small start-up looking to add your 3rd or 4th developer to the team, getting new developers up to speed fast provides you a competitive advantage. CodeStream is a simple solution to gaining that advantage.


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About CodeStream

CodeStream integrates all of your essential dev tools, such as GitHub, GitLab, Bitbucket, Slack, Teams, Jira, Trello and more, into VS Code, Visual Studio, and any JetBrains IDE.

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