Sourcegraph has been remote-friendly from the beginning — our two longest-tenured teammates have worked remotely since 2015 from Arizona and South Africa! We moved to remote-first in May of 2019 and completed our transition to all-remote with the ringing-in of 2020.
We have compiled some excellent tips and tricks from fellow teammates on how to live your best distributed work life!
There is no Sourcegraph office beyond an official mailbox – all of our developers, managers, and executives are remote. We understand what makes remote work successful. We believe what we have built with Sourcegraph will be invaluable to you. Your remote development experience, whether you’re a work-from-home expert or newbie, will grow stronger than ever.
Below are some ways Sourcegraph improves working together effectively on a remote team.
When reviewing code, you need a deep understanding of what that code does. If you aren’t familiar with how it works, you may spend a lot of time asking the change author questions, which is time-consuming for both you and the author.
We built the Sourcegraph browser extension to help you more quickly navigate and understand code (among other things!). The Sourcegraph browser extension provides hover tooltips directly in GitHub, GitLab, Bitbucket, and many other code hosts when reviewing code. When doing code reviews, you can learn by example, finding references to and documentation for the code you are reviewing. This allows you to build a comprehensive understanding of how the code works and ensure your questions are specific to what the author has changed.
Having Sourcegraph is an improvement for several reasons. It’s an easy way to share pointers to code and searches on code. When working remotely, I can't easily have someone look over my shoulder as I would in person. Screen sharing is possible (but with much higher-friction), and the results are harder to reproduce offline. Links to Sourcegraph are much more useful when trying to add in context for a Slack thread that blew up when I wasn't paying attention. Sourcegraph is also a better way to explore unfamiliar code. It costs more to get someone's attention when asking a question (because of timezones, async channels), so when I do need to ask someone for help, I want to respect their time by doing due diligence first. Sourcegraph helps me explore the code more effectively on my own than I could with only local clones and GitHub search.
Writing code changes—especially for new employees—can be a daunting task because you need to understand large and complex systems. Sourcegraph streamlines the entire code browsing experience so that no matter where you are browsing code (on GitHub, GitLab, Bitbucket, etc.), you have code intelligence at your fingertips via documentation hovers, go to definition, and find references. This empowers you to find answers without having to seek out help. When you do need support, you can simply click to find the author of the code. Sourcegraph’s powerful search engine lets you start by searching broadly for what you are working on, and then narrow it down with advanced filters, including full regex search. Once you’ve found the results you need, you can easily find who authored the code, and even search the repository’s entire git history to see if others have made similar changes in the past—allowing you to follow the paper trail of your code’s history.
As a Product Manager, I care about everything--features, bug fixes, improvements--that go into the product. I use a saved search in Sourcegraph to be notified by email every time there is an update to our CHANGELOG. This lets me keep track of what and when features get in and makes sure I know who to talk to about that change if I have any questions. It also removes unnecessary communication cycles between the engineering team and me because rather than needing to interrupt each team member, or require them to reach out to me to find out what is going on, I am proactively informed.
We’ve found that Sourcegraph helps our engineers write better documentation. Once you have information at your fingertips and see where it’s missing (like when you are hovering over functions), you are more likely to improve the documentation of that code to make understanding it easier at a glance.
As we've grown, I've needed to hand off a lot of code ownership and processes to other people. This meant writing a lot of docs (in code and in Markdown files). Having code search makes me more likely and happier to write docs because I believe that people will be more likely to actually discover and read them.
Sourcegraph’s search also makes it more likely that you will discover documentation that is stored inside your repositories but outside your code. This increases traffic to documentation and leads to people relying on it more, which in turn causes people to improve it. We have seen this extensively in the Sourcegraph handbook.
You’re staring at some code in your editor, struggling to understand how the code actually works. You decide it’s best to ask your coworker if she knows—but how do you share the code you’re looking at? Walk over to her desk? Navigate through the GitHub user interface to find the right file?
It’s nice to be able to share links to code with Sourcegraph. It’s important for remote work because your conversation partner often cannot look at your screen.
With Sourcegraph editor extensions, you can easily use a shortcut key to open your current selection on Sourcegraph. You can also use our browser search engine shortcuts to quickly search across your entire organization’s code. Both allow you to instantly get a link to that code that you can share with a coworker.
Any tool that empowers you to find the answer to your own question is good for remote work, and Sourcegraph is such a tool. The alternative is waiting for someone else to tell you the answer, which means you are blocked in the meantime, or you have to task-switch, which is costly.
Universal Code Search enables developers to explore and better understand all code, everywhere, faster. Let us show you how.