One of the questions I often get asked when demonstrating how CodeStream makes it easy to discuss code is
How is CodeStream different than PRs?
Given how often this gets asked of me in person I assume many people visiting us online may be thinking similarly so I figured I’d document my response.
CodeStream is different from PRs in a few ways. First, you can comment on any part of the codebase, at any time. A great use case is a junior dev who is looking at code and doesn’t quite understand it. With CodeStream it doesn’t matter whether that code is changing this sprint or has changed recently. It’s easy to ask a question and get an answer.
Then your conversations about code are saved with, and live with, the code itself, not buried in a PR page on a web site. When looking at code, annotation markers, CodeMarks, appear next to code and bring up comments in a pane alongside your code similar to the way Google Docs does. Importantly, these CodeMarks persist across commits and branches, so they will benefit developers in the future. GitHub PRs, once merged, are rarely looked at again because in your editor, when looking at a codeblock, there is no indication whether or not there was ever a relevant PR discussion. Importantly, CodeStream builds up a knowledge base over time — the more you talk about code, the more your code is documented with conversation. PRs do not deliver knowledge base capability.
CodeStream allows in-editor, real-time, chat-based discussion. If your team uses Slack, you can leverage your Slack channels directly within your editor to chat about code. Compare this to PRs which are more transactional in nature, and behave more like email or a forum post.
CodeStream lets you talk about uncommitted code, so you can easily ask your team “hey is this the right approach?” and include the stubbed code you just typed out, without the formality of a create PR, create-branch, commit, push, request, pull, comment. With CodeStream it’s as simple as type the code, select it, and type your question.
You can read more about our philosophy in our Master Plan and see the functionality discussed above in action in the video below.
Now that you know why we think CodeStream is better than PRs for discussing code, we’d like to know what you think and invite you to take the simple CodeStream vs. PR Challenge. CodeStream is currently available for VS Code. (Atom, JetBrains, and Visual Studio support is coming soon!) To take the challenge simply…
- Install our VS Code extension
- Sign-in with your Slack credentials
- Highlight a block of code
- Share that code, along with a quick comment to your #development channel (or whichever channel your dev team uses).
If you don’t think that’s easier than using PRs for general conversation let us know. Actually, even if you think it’s easier let us know too. We’d love your feedback.