The 7 best communication apps for coders

Hack Reactor

The 7 best communication apps for coders's Image

By Brittany Anas for Hack Reactor

With remote work becoming more commonplace, the number of communication apps designed to keep employees connected has multiplied. But, as you graduate from an online coding bootcamp, you’ll quickly find that some communication apps are specifically designed with software engineers in mind. The best communication apps have features like coding snippets to quickly share code with your team or they might have thoughtful integrations so you have your favorite coding and workflow tools at the ready. 

Whether you’re a recent coding bootcamp graduate or a senior-level manager, you’re probably interested in what communication apps are rated the best for software engineers.

Below, these great apps will help not only keep conversations between coders flowing, but also come with built-in perks to make collaboration seamless.

Chanty

With a simple interface, Chanty is easy to use and designed extra functions with coders in mind (like a “dark theme” that lets you switch contrasts to reduce eye strain when you’re working late into the night). The emojis and gifs add some levity.

How it works: Chanty allows your team of software developers to have private conversations, public conversations, or one-on-one chats. You can also have audio and voice calls. Settings allow you to receive notifications of all messages; one-on-one messages, @mentions, and task updates; and the ability to turn off notifications.

A feature you’ll love: Code snippets let you share blocks of code with your product team. They can open  and read them without leaving the chat app.

Cons: Chanty scores really high with its users, who have few complaints. Upgrades have addressed past complaints, with the addition of group video and audio calls. One drawback for some may be the pricing structure which is per user. 

Paid plans begin at $3 per user per month; find more information here.

Flock

Conversations are seamless with Flock channels, which offers direct chats and video conferencing as well as many features built with engineering teams in mind.

How it works: You can connect with your teammates in real time to patch code faster. You can also use channels to pose questions, review code or share files from your Google Drive or Dropbox. 

A feature you’ll love: The Code Snippet tool allows users to share code and get quick feedback. Plus, Flock will detect code language and syntax and make reading and editing code easier on the eye.

Cons: While you can integrate some of your favorite engineering tools, like GitHub, Jira, BitBucket and more, some users would like there to be more app integration available. 

Paid plans begin at $4.50  per month; find more information here.

Inspect by InVision 

Digging through design files, documentation, Slack threads and e-mails can slow you down on a project. A cross-collaboration app created with designers and developers in mind, Inspect by InVision is used by industry giants like Visa, Bloomberg, IBM, Intuit and SquareSpace. 

How it works: Inspect automatically translates designer files to detailed specs so developers can grab what they need—like measurements, colors, fonts styles, code snippets, graphic assets—without ever disrupting work flow to open an actual design file. You can go from design to code seamlessly with these specs. Plus, you can embed InVision links into popular workflow apps like Jira, Confluence, and Trello.

A feature you’ll love: Developers appreciate that they can comment directly in the design, letting designers know what’s technically feasible, which eliminates guesswork early on.

Cons: This is a program best for software developers who regularly work with designers, but it wouldn’t make sense to invest in this communication app if you’re working solely with other coders or managers.

Paid plans begin at $15 per month; find more information here.

Slack 

Slack channels—which are organized by topic, private groups and direct messaging—have revolutionized the way employees across all types of industries communicate. But, what you might not know is that Slack has features specifically tailored for software engineers. 

How it works: One of the best features for developers is a tracking tool that lets you monitor bug reports, updating them with change requests and user feedback. You can also host recurring meetings, like a daily check-in, on a Slack channel to discuss things like what you accomplished yesterday, what you’re working on today, and what coding blocks are popping up.

A feature you’ll love: You can create snippets that let you share code, configuration files and log files. To help you create these snippets, Slack has 60 different programming languages you can choose from.

Cons: While it’s great for quick check-ins, it’s tougher to use when your team needs to have more in-depth discussions. If you use the free version, past messages will be deleted. As it enables a constant conversation stream, it can also feel disruptive to those who work best when they are focused on a single task. 

Paid plans begin at $6.67 per month; find more information here.

ProofHub

NASA, Google, and Netflix are among the big-name customers that use ProofHub to help connect their remote teams. Beyond communication capabilities, ProofHub is an all-in-one suite with tools to help teams assign tasks, create reports, and create timesheets and agendas. Several of the tools help software developers communicate, eliminating long and convoluted e-mail threads. 

How it works: ProofHub is a one-stop-shop for seeing ideas through from a conception phase to the final product. But, in the communication arena, you can do things like using a mark-up tool to give feedback on designs and documents; carry on one-on-one or group chats; make announcements in a dedicated space, and bring your team and clients together for discussions instead of going back and forth on email.

A feature you’ll love: The @mention function that allows you to loop anyone on your team into a discussion.

Cons: For some, ProofHub sends through too many notifications without ways to customize when you get alerted and some users would like there to be integration with more file-sharing apps.

Paid plans begin at $45  per month; find more information here.


Gitter 

For the uninitiated, GitHub is a website and cloud-based service that’s beloved by developers who use it to store their code, work out bugs, and track changes they make. If your team is using GitHub heavily, then you may find Gitter an ideal way to communicate as it's integrated with GitHub. 

How it works: It’s an open-source instant messaging and chatroom system that’s designed for developers to communicate with not only each other, but also users.

A feature you’ll love: You can create your own chat rooms on any topic you’d like.

Cons: It’s a double-edged sword: Chat room logs are preserved. This can be helpful if you need to pull one up for reference, but to your detriment if you said something you end up regretting.

Paid plans begin at $7  per month for GitHub; find more information here.

Basecamp

As a pioneer in keeping remote workforces organized, Basecamp is a project management toolkit. In addition to a shared document and files hub and to-do tracking, Basecamp has several communication components built in that are ideal for software engineers. 

How it works: Instead of long e-mail chains, dedicated message boards let you scroll through and see the whole conversation thread in one place, with all of the responses on the record. Coders like that it’s integrated with several software development tools like TestLodge, ScrumDo, and InstaBug.

A feature you’ll love: Campfire (which gained fans early on) has been rolled into Basecamp. It’s a place where you can have more informal, quick group chats.

Cons: Users have griped that Basecamp is light on integration and it can be tough to use if you’re working on several projects versus a single project with several tasks.

Paid plans begin at $99  per month; find more information here.