26/06/2020

Learnt in Lockdown – Live Share

Hasn’t lockdown been fun? It has certainly been a time where we have learned to do things differently. A night out now translates to a delivery from whatever is open in town and a show from Amazon Prime or Disney+. Now I have a little more time I don’t define exercise as the walk from the office to the car, but I now actually get out and stretch my legs in the evening. Commutes are a distant memory and the DIY list has never shrunk this fast before. And, last but not least, work has also changed. Could someone remind me what our office looks like again?

Software Developers, by nature, tend to land on the introverted side of the scale, and so working from home was not necessarily a problem for our psychologies. However, software development works best in a team environment and so we all learned to better utilize our remote working tools. Early on, this consisted mainly of using the functionality within Microsoft Teams for meetings, chats, sharing files and also sharing our screens when we needed to help each other code. However, it didn’t take long to realize that using Teams to work on someone else’s code just wasn’t ideal. Sometimes keyboard layouts didn’t match, and it caused a problem. Sometimes the mouse got out of sync or didn’t respond fast enough due to an internet connection or other normal screen-sharing problems occurred. Surely there should be a better way. And there was.

Introducing Microsoft Live Share

Some time ago Microsoft introduced a tool called Live Share into Visual Studio Code and Visual Studio. This tool has been like a refreshing ice-cooled Coca-Cola after a game of football in a tropical climate. It allows one user to share his code base with another user. Then both users can type and code synchronously on the same file, with both users seeing the changes the other is making. If you combine this with a Teams voice call it makes for a great environment, both to teach and to work with colleagues on challenging problems. As an added bonus, the ports used by the compiled codes also come through the environment, which means both users can test the frontend and backend of the code as well. In short, one development environment can truly live in more than one place.

Lockdown has had many downsides but the chance to learn new skills is a bonus and something we will always now have. Thank you, Microsoft, for Live Share.


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