As just about any startup in the
valley world could tell you, hiring good developers is one helluva process.
First you’ve gotta find the rare developer who isn’t already drowning in job offers. Then you’ve gotta sit down and chat ’em up to make sure they’ll be a good fit for your team. Then you’ve gotta make sure they can actually, you know, code. All in all, the process can take weeks, with a dozen false starts along the way.
By combining a collaborative code editor with live video chat, Codassium makes the process a bit less painful.
While I personally find the idea of coding on-the-fly while someone I hope will give me lots of money stares at my face terrifying, it’s a pretty standard part of the developer interview process. Sometimes the interviewer will ask you to code out a bit of functionality with whatever language they use internally to gauge just how well you grok the nuances. Sometimes they’ll ask you how you might make a certain operation more efficient. Other times, they’ll just throw in a bit of broken code and say “Quick! Find the bug!” while sounding an air raid alarm and blasting a fire extinguisher in your face*.
Generally, this part of the process entails having the interviewee come into your office (which, in many cases, means flying them out to wherever you may be), or trying to juggle a video chat app like Skype alongside something like Collabedit. Codassium takes those two pieces of the puzzle, crams them together, and sticks them in one browser window.
Using Codassium is quite simple. You click one button to start a chat, give your browser permission to access your webcam, then share the unique URL with whoever else you want to join in on the conversation. I’m not sure if they’ve set a hard cap on how many people can be video chatting in one room at once, but I was able to cram in 6 talking heads before I ran out of room onscreen.
Codassium is built with Google’s rather awesome (if a bit nascent) WebRTC framework. The upside: that means the video chat works without Flash or any other third-party plugin. The downside: it also means that it currently only works in Chrome (or a pretty recent nightly build of Firefox).
While I don’t see myself leading any developer interviews anytime soon (I’m a half-way decent coder, if I do say so myself, but we’ve got people waaaaay more suited for that task here at TC), I like it for a totally different reason. I recently took a bit of a hiatus from writing to brush up on a few rusty skills, coding included. I’m fortunate enough to have a few friends who are way better coders than I am, and they were often willing to lend a hand whenever I’d get stuck trying to wrap my head around a particularly tough topic. This usually meant hopping on the phone and pasting bits of code back and forth over Skype, which was… not awesome. I would’ve loved to have had something like Codassium in my toolbox at the time.
Codassium is built by Wreally Studios, a small firm out of LA that just builds a lot of neat stuff. If you’re a journo or some other archetype that often finds themselves transcribing audio recordings, be sure to check out their audio player/notepad mashup app, Transcribe, as well.
[* I dont know if this actually happens, but I like to imagine that it does.]