Blog Series: Essential Tools for Geographically Dispersed Development Teams

Reading of telligenti Ken Robertson's planned series of posts about working remotely reminded me that I had planned of putting together a list of essential tools for remote development teams.  Actually, the list was planned to be a small portion of a larger project, but for the sake of avoiding any more procrastination...

In this series I plan to discuss some of the tools that I have found to be essential for geographically dispersed teams from the obvious to the not-so-obvious, like email and instant messaging, web conferencing, source control, unit testing, continuous builds, time tracking applications, project extranets and more.

I may not be fully qualified to write about a lot of things, but I am fully qualified to share my opinions and experience about working as part of a remote development team.  From 2001 through July of 2005 I worked off-site for Keystone Systems and OnlineFocus. The last couple of years at OnlineFocus I was one of only 2 programmers and both of us worked remotely (me in Cincinnati and another in Seattle), while almost all management, project managers, HTML developers, designers, and QA all worked from the main office. We also had a few managers and sales staff who also worked at remote locations.

Most of the applications and tools I plan to discuss will be tools I could not have lived without while working remotely, though interestingly enough, some of them I did not discover until recently when I began working in the main office at Tellus.

Please bear with me - I hope to keep the posts coming at a regular interval, but I do want to make sure I do my due diligence and provide research and statistics along with opinions when appropriate.   

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