In search of a collaborative coding tool that can work along with your distant team? We have a look at the perfect collaborative coding tools that can make distant pair programming easier and more productive for you and your team.

In the event you’re a programmer, you recognize that collaboration is vital to success. And there’s no higher option to collaborate than through pair programming. Any such programming allows two or more programmers to work together on the identical code, sharing ideas and solving problems as they arise.

When the pandemic began, code collaboration tools lagged behind the polish we’d come to expect from other real-time teamwork apps. But things have come a good distance in a short while, and there are more quality options than ever.

These tools will provide help to communicate and code effectively along with your team, irrespective of where they’re on the planet. Plus, they’re all free to make use of!

What Is Distant Pair Programming?

Before we dive into the perfect collaborative coding tools, let’s first answer the query: what’s distant pair programming?

Pair programming is when two or more developers work together on the identical project. They assist one another out and learn from one another. This could make the team more cohesive and likewise help to create a greater product.

Distant pair programming is when two or more programmers work together on code remotely. This might be done online using quite a lot of different tools.

Learn more about the right way to start pair programming in our pair programming guide.

Advantages of Distant Pair Programming

There are numerous advantages to distant pair programming, including:

  • Increased productivity: Studies have shown that pair programming can increase productivity by as much as 15%.
  • Higher code quality: When two or more persons are working on the identical code, there are fewer mistakes and errors.
  • Easier problem solving: Two heads are higher than one! In the event you’re stuck on an issue, working with another person can provide help to provide you with an answer more quickly.
  • Higher communication: Working closely with someone on code may also help improve communication skills and make it easier to offer and receive feedback.

What Are Collaborative Coding Tools?

Collaborative coding tools are apps or services that allow programmers to work together on code remotely. These tools offer quite a lot of features, similar to real-time multiplayer editing, audio and video chat, and group debugging.

Several product categories could possibly be described as collaborative coding tools.

  • Cloud IDEs: These are online code editors that mean you can write, edit, and debug code in your web browser. They’re great for collaborative coding because they permit multiple people to work on the identical code at the identical time.
  • Local IDEs: These are code editors that you just install in your computer. They often offer more features and customization than cloud IDEs, but they have an inclination to not be as convenient for collaborative coding because you might have to configure additional tools or share your computer’s screen.
  • Code Sharing Tools and Playgrounds: These are web sites and apps that mean you can share code snippets with others. They’re great for collaborative coding because they’re easy and simple to make use of.

There are also adjoining categories like code review tools that support code collaboration workflows. They’re great because they assist improve the standard of your code. But we’ll leave apps for managing the meta-work around coding for an additional piece.

In this text, we’ll look specifically at tools that enable developers to collaborate on code online in real-time.

The Rise of the Cloud-based Development Environment

The lines between these product categories themselves are increasingly blurred.

Microsoft, as an example, has been making major investments within the developer experience of cloud-based developer tooling — and their investment is paying off. Which means the potential gap between Visual Studio Code in your local machine and the GitHub Codespaces it may possibly hook up with are smaller with every release.

Today, Visual Studio Code users can easily decide to work locally or hook up with cloud-based development environments, like GitHub Codespaces.

The resulting experience delivers the responsiveness and configurability of your local development setup with the flexibleness and sheer computing power of cloud computing.

Microsoft particularly has invested in making cloud-based development environments a first-class developer experience, with collaboration tools to suit.

So what makes a terrific collaborative coding tool? While reviewing the products available on the market, these are the aspects we found to point the perfect experience (and sometimes essentially the most forward-thinking one).

  • Multiple communication options (voice, video, text chat).
  • A real multiplayer experience. No inherent, opinionated restrictions on the variety of collaborators (i.e., not only for pairs) or their ability to interact with the code based on opinionated pair programming workflows (driver/passenger, etc).
  • Full access to at least one’s usual local development environment and tooling. Great collaborative coding tools transcend traditional pair programming limitations and let each participants benefit from the setup they’re already comfortable with.
  • A fluid and responsive experience that doesn’t exacerbate the challenges of distant work.

An amazing collaborative coding tool should help us pair program remotely but offer flexibility for various collaborative use cases. It should aim to be an influence tool that solves all of your real-time code collaboration needs, not a one-trick pony.

Listed here are our picks for the perfect collaborative coding tools.

Live Share is installed as an extension and it really works easily whether you’re running VS Code for desktop or the VS Code web client.

Live Share allows teams to collaborate on a shared codebase while maintaining the power of every collaborator to navigate and work independently. While many code collaboration tools have traditionally been certain to the host’s perspective, Live Share allows all and sundry to navigate files and make changes to code on their very own terms.

Live Share can share your workspace, terminal, and native servers, and you possibly can communicate over voice from throughout the tool. That is a elegant option with other useful touches, like group debugging and a focus-and-follow feature that lets you draw the eye of your collaborators. With a price tag of free, this selection is a no brainer — particularly when you’re already a Visual Studio Code user.

Whilst you’re at it, try our Visual Studio Code power user’s guide and our VS Code extension recommendations for JavaScript developers.

CodeSandbox Live

CodeSandbox lets you collaborate in your sandboxes with its Live feature.

Users could make a sandbox live and share the URL with collaborators. You may determine whether anyone can edit at will, or control who can edit at a given time (classroom mode). File changes, dependency changes, and selections are all kept up-to-date across sessions.

CodeSandbox has a strong free offering, and the $9/month Pro plan provides unlimited private sandboxes and support for personal GitHub repos.


Codeanywhere is a browser-based development environment that goals to provide help to code from any device without friction — editor, terminal, revision tracking, and other features all included. Codeanywhere has a collaborative focus. For instance: as a substitute of getting to zip up your project each time you ought to share it (without adding someone to your private repo), you possibly can generate a sharing link immediately.

The feature of interest here is Codeanywhere’s live pair programming. Like Live Share or Teletype, this guarantees a Google Docs sort of document editing, with no limit on the variety of collaborators. One other handy feature we all know from Docs: click in your collaborator’s icon and also you’ll be taken to the road they’re working on.

Codeanywhere will cost you anywhere from $2.50/month to $40/month, depending on plan tier and billing frequency.

CodeTogether is a latest contender within the space for the reason that first edition of this text was published, and it’s purpose-built to enable distant pair programming.

Many of the tools we’ve explored are built around a single editor, which limits their practicality on condition that editor selections are sometimes not standardized across a team. CodeTogether is especially appealing since it is obtainable for Eclipse, VS Code, and IntelliJ-based IDEs. Participants can jump right into a browser-based editor no matter their personal editor preference, so CodeTogether works for a solid cross-section of users.

As with Live Share, CodeTogether participants can move in regards to the project freely. Users can work on their very own tasks independently, search across all shared projects, or decide to follow one other user’s viewpoint.

Between its editor-agnosticism and collaborative flexibility, CodeTogether now looks like the perfect option for a lot of real-world teams.

CodeTogether is free with a 60-minute session limitation. The Pro tier for people unlocks unlimited sessions from US$4/month.

CodePen Collab Mode

CodePen Pro subscribers can access Collab Mode, allowing multiple users to edit a single pen at the identical time. Only the owner of the pen must have a Pro subscription for this to work.

Each user’s changes, selections, and settings changes are reflected in Collab Mode, and there’s a live chat area built-in.

The pen’s owner can resolve whether to save lots of the changes, and collaborators can fork the outcomes off into their very own pens.

Whilst you’re probably not doing all your primary development out of a CodePen, that is a terrific option to run through a troubleshooting session with a friend or coworker, conduct interviews, or collaborate in other ad hoc situations.

CodePen Pro costs anywhere from $8/month to $39/month, depending on plan tier and billing frequency, and places collaborator limits on each of the three tiers: 2 people, 6 people, and 10 people respectively.

Teletype for Atom

Teletype for Atom, an early entrant amongst real-time code collaboration tools, allows Atom users to share their workspace with team members.

While Live Share users can move around a project freely, Teletype is a bit more host-centric. After the host opens a “portal”, their energetic tab becomes a shared workspace, and collaborators follow the host as they move between files. Teletype is well-suited to the pair programming use-case — with its driver and navigator model — but not as robust for all purposes as Live Share’s open-ended collaborative development environment.

Remote Collab for SublimeText

Distant Collab brings virtual pair programming to SublimeText. Distant Collab is a barebones plugin, but when you’re invested in SublimeText it would do the trick for you.

Each session is certain to a specific document. Once the host has begun a session, collaborators just need the host’s IP address to affix, and any changes made will probably be reflected across machines.

Wrapping It Up

It’s a terrific time to be a distant developer — there are quite a lot of solid tools on the market for collaborating on code. We hope this helped you discover the proper one for you. In the event you’re struggling to narrow it down, though, we’d recommend Visual Studio Live Share for those committed to Visual Studio and Visual Studio Code, CodeTogether for mixed editor teams, and CodePen for ad hoc collaboration.

Now you’ve got your toolkit sorted, ensure that you’re making essentially the most out of pair programming with our in-depth pair programming guide by M. David Green, development workflow expert and writer of Scrum: Novice to Ninja.