Tools

Microsoft Live Share Versus GitHub Teletype

by
Geoff Stevens
December 6, 2018

[ TL;DR ]

  • Github Teletype and Microsoft Live Share are ideal for pair programming, debugging, and training, especially for remote or distributed teams
  • Teletype is a dependable and user-friendly tool, but only offers basic shared text editing features
  • Live Share offers a far more feature-rich and streamlined code collaboration experience with shared debuggers, terminals, and local ports
  • Live Share encourages whole teams to adopt or switch to Microsoft’s Visual Studio or VS Code

A growing demand for code sharing

Despite the rapid advancement of text editors over recent years, a lack of tools for real-time coding collaboration has left a noticeable hole in extension and plugin marketplaces.

In late 2017, however, both Microsoft and GitHub began offering some of these much-needed features in their respective text editors. Microsoft announced its Live Share extension for VS Code and Visual Studio. GitHub released its Teletype package for Atom.

So far, they’ve both become incredibly popular: Teletype has amassed nearly 500,000 downloads and Live Share has garnered around 2.7 million installs across both Microsoft VS Code and Visual Studio.

Why the fast adoption? Teletype and Live Share both enable seamless coding collaboration within your text editor.

Live Share for Microsoft's VS Code and Visual Studio vs Teletype for GitHub's Atom, both useful for collaborative code editing in your native text editor and IDE

Real-time, native collaboration is invaluable if you work remotely, want to avoid screen sharing latency issues, or hate the idea of uploading your entire workflow into a hosted environment for a cloud-based IDE. Teletype and Live Share can also simplify team-oriented tasks like debugging, training, and pair programming.

Easy setup, easy sharing

For both Teletype and Live Share, setup is straightforward.

As with any VS Code extension, Live Share can be found in the editor’s marketplace. Once you have the extension installed, you’ll see a Share button on your Status Bar that’ll provide a link to your workspace. Share the link with a fellow team member, and they’ll be able to see your code.

To install Teletype, head over to Atom and install the package via the Settings menu or through the command line. You’ll need a GitHub account to get started. Once you open up your workspace, click on the small antenna icon in the Status bar, copy the secret ID and share with a team member. Your collaborator will have to copy the ID and similarly click the antenna in Atom, where he or she can enter the ID.

Live Share goes above and beyond

The benefit of using a tool like GitHub Teletype or Microsoft Live Share through your text editor is that all participants keep their custom key bindings, extensions, and themes when editing code.

Much like Google Docs, Teletype only syncs text between collaborators. You can only edit one shared file; you cannot navigate between files across an entire project. You’ll also need a separate tool if you’re planning on communicating during collaboration sessions.

Live Share has the same basic functionality of Teletype, allowing users to simultaneously edit a file through their own text editor.

The main difference between Teletype and Live Share is the depth of functionality that can be shared between users. Live Share makes it feel as if you’ve taken your team member’s entire project and transported it into your own text editor or IDE.

Live Share lets you share debugging tools and terminal instances, making it an ideal tool for teams to quickly squash bugs or help teammates. When writing code, you can use IntelliSense and suggestions in your text editor or IDE as you normally would on local files. Unlike Teletype, you can freely navigate across files within a shared project, making use of tools like Peak Definition and Go To Definition.

With its debugging tools and project navigation, Live Share is better suited for remote and distributed teams that require more complex collaboration tools.

The future of code collaboration

The world of collaboration tools for native editors is rife with out-of-date and defunct projects. Tools like AtomPair and Multihack for Brackets haven’t been updated in years. One of the more common alternatives, Floobits, has 32 thousand installs on Sublime Text, but allows cross-editor sharing.

A few online development environments compete indirectly, although their success depends on developers shifting to online IDEs. That will take time, if it ever happens at all.

For now, Teletype and Live Share remain the most popular choices for developers.

Between them, however, the future for Live Share looks especially bright. With its renewed focus on building developer-friendly tools, Microsoft will continue to add new and useful features to Live Share, VSCode, and Visual Studio.

If you are looking a real time code collaboration tool that will just keep getting better over time, Microsoft Live Share is the clear choice. Will it be a strong enough killer feature to convince even more developers to switch to VS Code, the reigning champion of the code editor wars?


Check out more about Teletype or Live Share.

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