- If you’re the go-to person for something in your company, consider how much of it is just gatekeeper information you could document properly to help someone else learn/grow from or work on independently.
- Separate out processes and historical background from your strategic expertise. Processes and backstory are not really ‘what you know.’ It’s much better to be a person someone asks ‘why’ or ‘when’ to do something vs. the logistics of a ‘how.’ How can and should be documented for others to build off of regardless of your involvement. This should free you up to be more involved in the why, the new, and the next of your work.
- If you’re repeating yourself in private chats or (gasp!) email on a specific topic, document it. That’s also what drove me to create this blog – being able to answer someone’s question with an answer you’ve already carefully crafted for someone else is a great feeling (and a great use of your time)!
- Will someone want to know why you decided or executed something a specific way later? Share as much background as possible so colleagues are brought up to speed immediately. Share the setup & thought process you went through, where to find more information, and even the facts, ideas, or information you considered but deemed outside of scope for the particular project. My goal is to hopefully never have someone ask “where did this come from?” or “what’s your source?” or “did you consider this?” (when I had) and instead focus on enriching the discussion or challenging my ideas vs. asking me for information I should have provided in the original post.
- Gather the best, most complete, or authoritative things you’ve authored and submit them as potential onboarding materials for new team members. Challenge them to ask questions and to find something you need to document.
- If important progress is made, be sure to update your documentation, or retire in favor of something newer or more complete. We do this by linking from old posts to new ones, and all it takes is a quick comment and a link on an old post.
This reminded me of this infographic, which depicts a year (even though back in 2012 – probably much busier these days) for another kernel maintainer – Greg Kroah-Hartman. Note that the number of emails does not include the messages on the Linux kernel mailing list (LKML), which is in its own category of busy:
The Linux kernel mailing list (LKML) is the main electronic mailing list for Linux kernel development, where the majority of the announcements, discussions, debates, and flame wars over the kernel take place. Many other mailing lists exist to discuss the different subsystems and ports of the Linux kernel, but LKML is the principal communication channel among Linux kernel developers. It is a very high-volume list, usually receiving about 1,000 messages each day, most of which are kernel code patches.
HipChat keeps extending the amazing list of integrations with other tools and services. This blog post – 35 new ways to do your work right inside of HipChat – lists some of the recently added. Included, among others, is even a multiplayer snake game.
Chat is becoming more and more important for team communication and collaboration (what is ChatOps?). Old school applications like Skype are being replaced with modern, web-based chat platforms, that provide group/room and one-on-one chats, file uploads, screen sharing, voice and video communications, API integration and more. There are plenty of solutions to choose from too.
Traditionally, self-hosted solutions were difficult to setup and maintain, and were lacking in integration options. So many teams choose to go for the third-party hosted approach. This is not very exciting for companies that deal with sensitive data though.
You can try the live demo, or deploy it to your infrastructure via a gadzillion different methods, or read the beautiful documentation. And there’s a rumor of HipChat and Slack import tool, so you won’t have to start from scratch…
Let me know what you think.
HipChat blog runs a rather lengthy post on what ChatOps are – “What is ChatOps? A guide to its evolution, adoption & significance“, which provides some insight into how the new generation of teams communicate.
At Qobo, we are at Stage 3 – Gimini, with a whole lot of dedicated rooms (one for each project, and a few more), some workflows (most notably “Hey Leonid, can you merge and deploy this pull request please“, or a shorter “@leonid, please m&d”), and some automation (we get monitoring notifications from Nagios and Zabbix, repository activities from GitHub and BitBucket, as well as do project deployments using slash commands).
We haven’t eliminated email completely, but combined with Redmine project management tool, we’ve significantly decreased the role of unstructured emails in our work.
Bitbucket is often viewed as second best compared to GitHub. And while I love GitHub dearly, I have to say that it’s not true. It’s as good as GitHub. Sure, it doesn’t offer all GitHub features yet (Releases, for example), but it does offer a few features of its own, which are not found in GitHub (Projects and Approvals come to mind).
With the recent advances in Atlassian Connect – an API integration layer – there’s been quite a few apps and services that extend Bitbucket beyond what GitHub users are accustomed to. Have a look at this Pull request guidelines for Bitbucket Cloud.
It looks simple. But it’s super handy and provides functionality, which is not as trivial as you might think.
GitHub blog brings us a piece of exciting news – now you can add more attachment types to comments. The list is no longer limited by images alone. Now you can attach Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint files, as well as plain text and PDF documents. This feature alone will make GitHub Issues into a much more viable bug tracking option for many projects and companies.
I’ve seen it before, as I opted into the beta testing, and I’m glad they’ve finally pushed it out to all users. It’s awesome, slick, and completely out of the way.
And if you haven’t tried HipChat for your team yet, I urge you to do so. Here are some of the awesome things about it:
- Unlimited rooms. You can have rooms by subject, by project, by group, and so on.
- Direct messaging. You can do groups on one-on-ones.
- Integrations! This is one of the major reasons to use it. We have it integration with GitHub and Nagios currently. And a gadzillion of other services are available in just a few clicks. Super awesome!
- History. HipChat preserves history of conversations, so introducing new members into a team is so much easier – they can read, scroll through, or search the previous room messages.
- Clients for any operating system, including Linux, smartphones, and just web.
- Flexible notifications. You can configure when, if at all, you want to be notified of the new messages. You even have an option to alert you with SMS, if you are offline. Which is especially handy if you are using Nagios integration or similar.
- Files, links, previews, emoticons, and a tonne of other goodies.
- Free! Yes, that’s right. HipChat is free. You only pay for premium features, which include video chat and screen sharing. And even then it’s only $2 per user per month, which still qualifies as free.
This tool is truly indispensable!
Remember Google Wave? Yes, quite a handy collaboration tool that mostly failed due to a silly invitations-only policy stretched over way too longer than it should. Well, apparently, even after Google gave up the idea and most of its code as Open Source, there are still people who work on making it succeed.
Save Google Wave is the website that keeps track of several alternatives and provides a simple functional overview of each.
One day, I’ll grow up enough to use an organization tool. This one will probably be it.