My tools for remote work

Makzan’s Dispatch 2020 week 11

There are different tools for remote works. Many may use Slack. Some may use Telegram, WhatsApp or even WeChat. 

But to me, any tools that are not threaded nor allow non-instant responses are not optimal tools for a remote team. That’s because the team cannot store decisions and the team cannot easily discuss different threads at the same time. New team members are difficult to follow what’s going on without a senior to guide them. In short, it is hard to keep the context.

My first choice of remote work tool is Basecamp. Basecamp encourages context-based discussions and team communication via thoughtful writing, instead of short messaging. It empowers asynchronous remote working. Whenever you need to catch up, the activity list, both account-wise and project-wise, shows what is going on recently. This allows anyone to get into the same page of the team whenever they come back from. I have successfully managed long term Test Projects development with remote professionals and also managed multi-years development projects remotely which I never feel lost when coming back to work on it.

Trello is a good alternative tool for remote team. The board view provides a strong visual guideline on the status of the project. It allows team members to discuss per card, which falls into one of the lists on the board. It fits the usage case that there is a strong process flow from one step to the next step. I used Trello to organize Web Technologies at WorldSkills Kazan 2019. We named the list with preparation, pre-competition, during competition and post-competition. Each card has a colored label for the status. We can easily spot which card needs more discussion with orange label, which card is incomplete with red label. We know if we are ready to move onto the next step.

Github is, of course, good for remote programming projects. It is built for that purpose. In addition, plain text writing, such as books in AsciiDoc or markdown can benefits when collaborating on Github. The labeled issue tracking, milestones and project board allows threaded discussion. The wiki works as documentation.

Indeed, Github and Basecamp can work together, where Basecamp provides the big picture and context while Github provides the actual work collaboration through version controls, plain text line commenting, and pull requests. There is a chatbot hook for Github commits notifications.

Sometimes we do need a real-time conversation with teammates. In such case, I would use WhereBy which allows me to create an easy-to-remember URL for the room. For example, my room is So every team member who needs to communicate with me in real-time can “knock” the door for a quick ad-hoc video call. No need to remember the long room ID number or a random hash that’s created every time.

Links worth sharing

Conic Gradients is being implemented in Firefox.

Meanwhile, there is a poly-fill from Lea Verou with beautiful examples there.

Customizable tooltip generator with CSS variables

Vision deficiencies simulation in Chrome Dev Tool

Useful tool to have an overview on the color choice.

Linux kernel teaching material

A 3D race game in only 2KB of JavaScript.

Remote work manifest by Gitlab

Gitlab also shares their remote work manifest.

The Remote book

This is the experience shared by the Basecamp team. A must-read if you manage remote team.

And how Basecamp communicate internally

WWDC 2020 will be online-only

Quote worth sharing

More isn’t better.
Less isn’t better.
Fit is better.

Until next week,
Thomas Mak