Q

These collaboration apps dramatically enhance development teamwork

In this expert answer, contributor Chris Moyer discusses what he calls essential collaboration tools for development teams.

What are the best collaboration apps or tools you're using this year? Why?

Collaboration is absolutely key in development opportunities. Some of the best collaboration apps I've seen recently are those allowing you to work from wherever you are, whether it's in your office or out in the middle of a cornfield with your trusty smartphone. 

FlowDock integrates with everything, including social media, which allows us to keep a close eye on what's being said about our products.

One tool we couldn't do without is FlowDock, which describes itself as "a team collaboration app for desktop, mobile and Web." FlowDock integrates with everything, including social media, which allows us to keep a close eye on what's being said about our products, as well as managing responses to clients and watching everyone else's code commits. It's like an extended chat application that also happens to be very good at keeping you up to date on what everyone is doing. It's great. I require all my staff to have FlowDock open while they are "on the clock."

Another very useful collaboration app we've found is the ChiliProject Web-based project management system. It's completely free, but takes a little effort to set up. There are obviously a million and one different project management systems out there, but this is one we've been able to adapt to all our needs. We track hours, set up milestones, and even plan releases entirely in Chili. We've also been setting up our wikis in Chili to handle all our documentation.

Finally, for our code hosting solution, we prefer Bitbucket. We've been with this company almost from the start; we chose it over Github because it was the only one to support Mercurial (a source control management tool). We've since switched from Mercurial to Git, but Bitbucket supports both.

We've used tickets and wikis in Bitbucket for external developers when we didn't want to give them access to Chili. But, overall, it's a really great tool for code collaboration. The company also added support for "deployment keys," which makes it incredibly simple to keep all of our servers updated with the latest code.

This was first published in September 2013

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