Whether you’re looking for collaboration on a hot project, help for a stubborn coding issue, or merely a shoulder to cry on (metaphorically speaking, of course), you’re sure to find it online at a number of communities specifically aimed towards software developers. These hubs of developer interaction offer up a goldmine of information on anything related to coding, from Android development to Tizen to the latest in Ultrabook™ touch and sensor integration. Different levels of activity exist within these sites, anywhere from somewhat passive to fully involved, but all are valuable sources of cutting-edge, real world software development information from people who are actually out there writing code.
Reddit, one of the most popular social hubs on the Web, offers a wide variety of platforms for developers on which to connect, the most active being r/programming and r/coding. Users submit newsworthy links from other sites that are voted up or down, with lively conversations happening around most of them. These sub-reddits are a great place to ask for help on a stubborn coding issue as well; there are a wide range of developers who hang out here, anywhere from novice to decades of experience in their respective fields. Oftentimes this is also where representatives from large software-focused companies, like Intel, Microsoft, and Apple will also do AMAs (Ask Me Anything) about a new release that they want to get feedback on from developers.
Still in beta at the time of this writing, Code Review is a collaborative workplace where developers can share their code for review by peers. It’s free with no registration required, and perfect for when you need feedback on something that might not be going as smoothly as you had hoped. Code Review encourages developers to share work that would benefit from feedback in the following areas: best practices, design pattern usage, security, and performance.
Twitter is infamous for its noise vs. signal ratio, but developers shouldn’t overlook this popular site merely because it’s got a lot going on. There are highly regarded developers using every programming language out there that utilize Twitter as a sounding board, collaborative springboard, and real-time water cooler. A good way to start is to browse curated lists of popular software developers that have already been formatted for you: 20 Developers to Follow on Twitter will give you a running start.
GitHub is a code sharing site that essentially functions as a social networking site for programmers. Code is uploaded and hosted here, and features such as fork (copying a set of code from one user’s account to another user account), pull request (notifying the owner of the original code that you’ve made changes you’d like to share), and merge (goes along with a pull request; owners of the original code can merge your changes into the original code seamlessly) make GitHub especially useful for collaboration.
BetterCodes gives developers the ability to connect and identify like-minded developers at similar levels of experience. Groups focused on specific programming languages from PHP to Programming Methods and Techniques are offered, and project-focused groups (anything from Java Apps to Patterns) are also available.
DZone functions much like Reddit, except content is curated primarily by editorial staff (although community members can choose to vote content up and down off the home page). Software developers can find all the latest news that affects them as coders here, along with lively discussions from DZone members. In addition to the content community, DZone also offers dedicated resource portals on specific software topics such as Agile, Cloud Computing, and HTML5, as well as DZone “Refcardz” (six page cheat sheets written by thought leaders in the developer ecosystem), Dzone Snippets (source code library of code samples), and the DZone Library (white papers, webcasts, podcasts, etc.).
The Code Project
The Code Project boasts over nine million registered members, and is a staggeringly comprehensive site with a lot to offer software developers. If you have a code issue that you need a quick answer to, try the Quick Answers section, where dedicated mods and community members give expert advice for questions from newbs right on up to ninja coders looking for complicated information. The Code Project Message Boards are discussion boards on anything code-related you could possibly ask for, anything from Mobile to .Net Framework to Application Lifecycle – and many of these forums boast membership in the hundreds of thousands.
Stack Overflow is a unique online platform for developers where they can not only ask and answer questions on anything code-related, but also edit answers and information (much like a wiki) as needed. The site offers itself best to practical questions that are based on actual coding issues, such as a specific programming quandary, a tricky software algorithm, or other questions along those lines. This is an extremely active community, open to anyone who needs help with software development.
Hacker News works much like Reddit in that links relating to software development are submitted and ranked via a points system. Comments on the stories are made directly on the site in a threaded comment format, and popular stories can grab hundreds of comments. One unique feature of Hacker News: users can only spend so much time on the site before they are kicked off for three hours. Hacker News is one of the most streamlined places on the Web for software developers to find news and information affecting their industry.
Slashdot is one of the oldest and most venerated technology sites on the Internet today, having been around since 1997. The site features user-submitted and curated content on any and all topics related to technology, including software development, with each submission available for user comments (many stories end up getting hundreds of comments). Discussions can get pretty heated, but comments are (somewhat) moderated by users by being voted down. A story that gets a lot of attention via Slashdot, thus driving traffic to the original source, can originate what is called the “Slashdot effect”; basically overwhelming the source with a frenzy of traffic.
TopCoder is an extremely active community of nearly half a million software developers. The developer forums offer active contests from outside companies looking to award savvy developers prize money, recognition, and swag; there’s also a lively competition for Coder of the Month and dedicated forums on subjects ranging from Software Competition to Testing and Assembly. The focus here is mainly on competitions, and there are plenty of those: anything from Design and Development to contests specifically for high school students are offered on a regular basis.
Plenty of spaces to connect
As you can see from this list, no matter what kind of connections you might be looking for – project collaboration, coding help, or peer review – you’ll be able to find a good place to land online. Where do you go online when you need another eye on a project? Let us know in the comments.