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The State of Software Development 2021 and CodeStream

Michael GershMichael Gersh
April 16, 2021

I just received and reviewed the latest iteration of the Coding Sans State of Software Development report. Its release is a small annual event I actually look forward to for a couple reasons. First, I’m a data-junkie so any well-done pdf with interesting data will get my attention. But more importantly, I find their report consistently reaffirms a sense of purpose... CodeStream’s purpose. Let me explain.

Knowledge Sharing

For the 3rd year in a row “Sharing Knowledge” is the biggest challenge for developers by a considerable margin. 


Improving knowledge sharing is one of the fundamental goals of CodeStream. From our Master Plan written two and half-years ago:

Every CodeBase Should have a Knowledge Base. Today, development teams around the world use git to track every change to every line of every file in their repository, all the way back to the beginning of time when the project was started. And yet almost all of those same teams are taking all the discussion about that code, which often explains how it all works, and are unwittingly throwing it away in Slack or Gmail, or burying it in a PR comment, probably never to be seen again.

Kind of crazy, once you really think about it.

We believe that every piece of information about your codebase should be saved with your codebase, visible to every developer in the context of looking at a file or a function, at any time. This simple concept is, rather surprisingly, not implemented by any tool in widespread use today.”

At the time of that writing the saving of information connected to your codebase was limited to conversations using CodeStream’s proprietary in-IDE communication tool and codemarks. But it has since been expanded to include PR comments, comments made via code reviews, and direct links to issues and tickets in over a dozen issue trackers.

While there’s no shortage of developer tools out there… dozens of issue trackers, dozens of IDEs, multiple code hosting platforms...I believe you’d be hard pressed to name a development tool more committed to solving what is consistently THE top challenge for developers, knowledge sharing.

Difficulties with Communication

It would be an understatement to say that 2020 was a unique year for many development teams given the pandemic and increase in remote work, and the Coding Sans report covered that in detail. The number of companies allowing remote work increased from 76% to 98% in the last year. Developers were asked about challenges the pandemic added and the number 1 response from the Coding Sans survey:

“1. Difficulties with communication

The majority of the participants mentioned that the forced remote environment has made communication more difficult, causing a wide array of issues. Here are the most common occurrences:

  • Lack of water cooler conversations
  • Increased overhead in communication
  • Asynchronous communication
  • More meetings

The lack of personal touch in a remote environment decreased employee retention at many companies, beyond making the day-to-day work more monotonous and less fun.

Not being able to walk over and talk to a colleague also increased overhead on technical discussions, and minor issues often don’t even make it to discussions. This has made additional meetings necessary, which takes extra time away from software engineers doing focused work.

Overall, remote communication has plenty of room for improvement.”

Plenty of room for improvement? Enter CodeStream. Our development team has been working remotely since well before the pandemic and CodeStream, like many start-up products, was conceived and built to respond to problems we were facing. Features like the ability to ask a quick question about a block of code by simply highlighting it in your IDE similar to commenting on a Google doc, and  our feedback requests which allow for light-weight and more continuous smaller-chunk code reviews without the friction of commits and pull-requests are tremendous solutions for remote and asynchronous communication. 

We still contend that the biggest reason developers struggle with communications is that most of the top tools being used for communication by development teams as per the Coding Sans survey - email, Slack, MS Teams, Zoom, Skype, Discord, etc. - were not built specifically for development teams. 

This topic has been covered much before on our blog. Besides the CodeStream Master Plan referenced above, a couple years ago I actually quoted the 2019 Coding Sans State of Development survey when discussing how CodeStream helps with the lost water-color conversations in Why Your Remote Team Needs a Code Discussion Tool.  Also see The Connected IDE is the gateway to increased developer collaboration for more information on how our technologies are improving communication for remote teams.

Summary

If you work on or with a software development team I encourage you to review the State of Software Development 2021 report.  If your dev team is like the many that consider knowledge sharing and communication challenges, I strongly encourage you to check out CodeStream. If not yet ready to install the extension for your IDE, you can review the 5 short videos at https://codestream.com as a quick introduction.

I look at the challenges ahead and think to myself: It's very fulfilling knowing we are very uniquely solving the biggest challenges millions of developers around the world are facing.

Discuss

Please share your thoughts and feedback @teamcodestream.

About CodeStream

New Relic 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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