Development toolmaker Genuitec has released a new version of its CodeTogether tool to help developers collaborate more effectively.
Genuitec, based in Flower Mound, Texas, made CodeTogether 4.0 generally available this week. The product enables developers to do secure pair programming on development teams that want to have members code simultaneously with their teammates.
CodeTogether allows developers to use their preferred IDE, including Visual Studio Code, IntelliJ or Eclipse. The new release includes features to enhance the collaborative coding experience, with a special focus on teams, said Tim Webb, vice president of operations at Genuitec.
“Heterogeneous support for IDEs from VS Code and IntelliJ to Eclipse means peers can work together, regardless of their preferred environment,” he said.
CodeTogether 4.0 continues to evolve the company’s CodeTogether Teams offering. The teams tool is an opt-in feature that simplifies collaboration with a team-centric user experience, enhanced security and write-access to terminals.
“Only CodeTogether 4.0 enables remote pair, mob and swarm programming from all the tools that are already loved by developers,” said Todd Williams, vice president of technology at Genuitec.
Pair programming not only helps developers work together to find bugs and write higher-quality software, but also teaches new programmers tricks of the trade.
“Advantages to pair programming include better code — two heads are better than one, greater efficiency, fewer mistakes and knowledge transfer — especially when a more senior person is paired with a junior one,” said Jason Bloomberg, an analyst at Intellyx in Suffolk, Va. “Pair programming also helps developers improve interpersonal skills and eases the transition should one of the pair leave the company.”
CodeTogether 4.0 improves the product’s language heuristics with the addition of call and type hierarchy intelligence. Also, remote developers can do live reviews and validate the impact of changes in real time while another developer is actively making changes. In addition, CodeTogether 4.0 provides a feedback cycle during coding sessions. This release also brings enhancements to code completion and quick fixes for improved collaborative coding.
“The original vision of pair programming is to have the two developers sitting physically in front of the same computer — a challenge in today’s work-from-home, socially distanced world,” Bloomberg said. “This is the problem that Genuitec is addressing.”
Genuitec’s goal with the new release was to get as close to that same room, same computer version of pair programming as possible.
Jason BloombergAnalyst, Intellyx
“The expansion of code intelligence exposed in CodeTogether 4.0 allows teams collaborating remotely to achieve a near-local coding experience,” Webb said. “Key for collaborative development is the ability to understand the context of code under development. The exposure of information such as call and type hierarchies remotely allows peers to truly explore and understand the impact of changes real time during collaborative coding and review sessions.”
Pair programming is also being taught in university curriculums.
“The Northeastern University computer science curriculum heavily emphasizes pair programming,” said Jason Hemann, a lecturer at Northeastern. “I wanted an environment that would allow students to continue practicing this even while they were remote. The CodeTogether tool was the only freely available product I found that supported our version of Eclipse still. I had been recommending they follow the remote mob programming model of working with everyone together and regularly taking turns behind the keyboard.”
However you look at it, two heads looking at the same code are likely to be better than one.
“The crux of the matter is: Can two developers looking at the same code be better than two developers coding separately,” said Holger Mueller, an analyst at Constellation Research. “The real challenge is that developers don’t want to make mistakes, and that’s what pair programming lives by. So the challenge is to maintain a professional and social relationship between developers — which no software can address.”
Microsoft’s Live Share is easily the most prominent among these, and probably provides the most competition to CodeTogether. However, Live Share works with only VS Code and Visual Studio, both of which are Microsoft products, whereas CodeTogether is compatible with VS Code, Eclipse, IntelliJ and the IDEs based on all of those.
Indeed, the Genuitec tool was built to enable development teams to avoid any type of vendor lock-in.
“If your shop is 100% Microsoft, you love having a Microsoft Teams login and are a fan of vendor lock-in, and don’t mind having an internet connection to use Microsoft external servers to move your code — even if encrypted, instead of your own, then there’s no reason for you to look at us,” Williams said.
Genuitec’s product is geared for companies that prize the flexibility of heterogeneous environments and are in highly regulated industries such as defense, healthcare or banking, he added.
To the latter point, in addition to Genuitec’s SaaS offering the company also offers an on-premises installation with single sign-on support for companies that want to maintain control, security and compliance with their internal protocols.
If the single sign-on provider supports the OpenID Connect (OIDC) protocol for sign on, on-premises installations can allow CodeTogether access to users only if they’ve been authorized by the provider. The OIDC protocol ensures that CodeTogether works with providers like Okta, Azure AD, Microsoft Active Directory Federation Services and Auth0.