Wow! Remote Development DOES Work!

March 26, 2008

Phew! It’s been quite a while since my last post and I’ve been busy busy busy.

The IT market is really tight at the moment if you are looking for worker bees, so when you find good people you need to accommodate their needs. Also, as a founder of a startup business, I’m always keen on keeping costs down. So I thought we’d give remote development a shot. Six developers, one of them the other side of the world. The bulk of them working in their “comfortable” development pits they call home.

It’s working!

There’s certainly no substitute for face-to-face interaction, but distance and space away from others certainly has its perks. It gives headspace to get stuff done. But the communication is incessant:

  • we use continuous integration techniques to not only ensure ongoing code quality and confidence, but also to see what progress we are all making
  • we make gratuitous use of instant messaging
  • it’s mandatory we gather round our group IM, Campfire
  • we document things as we discuss them on our Wiki
  • we like the telephone
  • we meet up every week, or when we need to

Depending upon where we are at in the project, sometimes these constraints actually help build better software. It forces you to write certain things down you might haven’t otherwise. You have a good audit trail. It enforces a little more rigour.

But at other times it can be tough. Particularly with the knarly requirements that only a good old whiteboard session can solve. But that’s when we meet up face-to-face.

It’s certainly not for everyone, and you need a certain breed of developer for this to succeed, but remote development can work.

We truly are a global marketplace.

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9 Responses to “Wow! Remote Development DOES Work!”


  1. Speaking of keeping good engineers on board, sometimes people do ignore the feedback provided by a continuous integration system. This increases tension in the team because nightly builds are still broken, no one likes build breakers. That’s where our Parabuild, which is a Continuous Integration and release management system, shines: Parabuild will give you a successful nightly build even if the head of the codebase is broken. This keeps both developers and release engineers happy

    Regards,

    Slava Imeshev

  2. Jay Says:

    Is Slava a spammer or really interested in your CI techniques I wonder?

    On the cost theme, how do you find the global economy affects you recruitng remote developers? do your rates look more favourable to certain countries? I ask this because as a UK resident I see us as being relatively expensive, once exchange rates and living costs are factored in. All of which restricts my choice of employer…

  3. Dan Says:

    Hi Jay,

    I have a developer working from the UK at present, and to be honest, with the money he can get over there, we simply cannot pay the New Zealand equivalent. It’s inevitable the lure of the pound will win out.

    This probably means it’s good for us as a New Zealand business trying to get overseas gigs, but not brilliant if we want to employ star developers from around the globe.

    That said, you generally pay for what you get, and if it all adds value in the long run then everyone can win.

    From what I hear, good developers in the UK can easily pull GBP800-1000 a day. In terms of NZ, it’s pounds for pesos (ooops, NZ dollars)

  4. Dan Says:

    Thanks for the feedback Slava, but with cruisecontrol and campfire we’re more than happy with our CI solution. Cheers!


  5. Dan,

    No problem, I just wanted to point out that there are solutions that do a bit more to accommodate needs of good people than CruiseControl does.

    Another thing that work well for remote development is WebEx or any other tool that allows to share a desktop among a group of remotely situated people. We ourselves use it for short pair-programming sessions when working with our remote team. All it takes to implement “let me grab a keyboard” is a single click on the sharing manager. Works like a charm.

    Regards,

    Slava Imeshev


  6. Hi Jay,

    > Is Slava a spammer or really interested in your CI
    > techniques I wonder?

    With all due respect, calling names just because somebody’s opinion doesn’t coincide with your own is not pretty.

    And it is definitely not helping with you being hired. Good luck with your job search 🙂

    Regards,

    Slava Imeshev

  7. Heidi Says:

    Hello, Dan. I am the co-founder of a startup software company from Buenos Aires, Argentina: 2CODE Online.
    We are a group of remote freelance developers and designers and we specialize on Offshore Outsourcing.
    All our team members are fluent English speakers and writers and have +5 years of experience in C# .NET development.

    You can also check out our website to learn more about us: http://www.2codeonline.com.

    We also have competitive costs and provide project management with the same hourly rates as freelance developers.

    I’m quite sure we can benefit from one another.

    Please contact me anytime.

    Thanks & regards,

    H.G.

  8. loova Says:

    Hi Guys,

    Sorry to budge in, I am a developer from the Philippines and would be very happy to have a rate minimum rate of 250 pounds per day. I am very good too. Contact me for any project loovaloo[at]yahoo.com.

  9. Giovanni Says:

    Hi to all,

    please try http://www.devstaff.biz , it’s a new marketplace, completelly “skill centered” for consultants and outsorcing companies of ICT market.

    Bye
    Giovanni


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