Squad is a web-based collaborative code editor.
Last week we added a great new feature: Dropbox integration. You can now edit your Dropbox files collaboratively, just like you edit local files and SFTP/FTP files.
To set up a Dropbox location, login to Squad and select “Add” in the File Browser. Select “Dropbox” from the Protocol list, and then name your connection (optional). You can specify a path if you wish, but this, too is optional. Once you click the “Add” button, you will probably see a message that says “Squad was unable to access your Dropbox account.” This is expected, since you must explicitly allow Squad to access your account. To do so, click the link that says “Click here to activate.” A new browser tab will take you to a Dropbox page that either asks you to log in (if you are not already logged in to Dropbox) and then asks you to click the “Allow” button, or simply shows the “Allow” button (if you are already logged in to Dropbox). Click “Allow” to activate access to your Dropbox account from Squad. You will see a page that confirms this authorization. Close that browser tab and return to Squad. Close the modal window that notified you of the lack of authorization, and click “Add” in the file browser again. Your Dropbox files will appear shortly.
You should only need to go through the authorization process once; after the first time, you will be able to access your Dropbox files right away.
You may also notice that we have modified the way you add SFTP/FTP connections. We listened to feedback from you and some reviewers, looked at many other approaches to the same problem, and tried to simplify the process. In particular, there is no longer a need to type a specific path, one of the most common difficulties in adding a location. The default path is now /home/username, as it is in many similar applications. You may modify this if you know a specific path you would like to access, but this should be sufficient for most applications.
We hope these improvements make your work in Squad even more efficient! We are grateful to the Squad users whose feedback helped guide these updates, and we always want to hear more from you. Drop us a line at email@example.com, say hi on Twitter or post a comment below. We have some great stuff in the pipeline, including more third-party integrations and a few surprises!
Squad provides an interesting opportunity for coders working in agile teams to interact even more closely with each other and the code. Whatever level of agile programming you use—from totally pure to a hybrid implementation—communication and collaboration are surely important elements to your process. The ability to obtain feedback from multiple people in real-time is one of Squad’s many strengths; whether you are in the same room or across the country, Squad can provide the platform for sharing, reviewing, and updating code.
Even if you’re used to agile processes and reviews, the idea of incorporating a shared coding workspace with others might be new. Here are a few tips to keep in mind as you get started:
If you want to learn more about agile programming principles, tons of resources are available. Here are a couple resources we think may be worth investigating first.
We implemented simultaneous coding in Squad specifically to address the needs of agile programming processes. We’d love to hear feedback on how you and your team are using Squad, and what we could do to make your experience easier and more productive. Feel free to drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @squadedit. Happy coding!
Working through a tough programming challenge on your own always feels great, but studies have proven that it is more effective to code through a complex problem with a colleague. For instance, one study found development time decreased by 19% when the participants used pair programming instead of writing code separately.
You may think pair programming belongs in the computer science classroom or in a corporate job, but it’s starting to gain the attention of a growing number of agile enthusiasts. As more and more academic studies demonstrate the benefits of collaboration during the initial programming process (including reducing testing and debugging time later in the process), developers and smaller companies are beginning to add this type of method into their development workflow.
So how can you try out pair programming for yourself? Find a friend or coworker, set clear objectives, goals and time limits, get logged into Squad and start to conquer your coding challenge.
Squad is perfect for pair programming because it has a built in mode to help reinforce the practice that one person types while the other person watches. Although it may be intimidating at first to know that someone is watching as you type in realtime, with practice it will make you a more careful coder as well as help you identify ways to improve your work.
If you need some help figuring out the logistics of pair programming, you might want to check out one of these articles:
Four Ways to Do Pair Programming
“Pair Programming” from The Art of Agile Development by James Shore
Techniques for Effective Pair Programming
Remember, there is a learning curve with this technique, just like any other, and patience is key with getting over this hump. Good luck!
We’ve joined in, and relished, the addictive high of one-upping ourselves and our friends by completing levels faster and better, eagerly waiting to devour new courses as they become available.
While waiting for the new material, we still felt the itch to keep playing with our newfound knowledge, but were unsure what projects were reasonable to undertake. This prompted us to look for some fun exercises that we can work on with friends to keep learning and continue building. Here are some of our favorite resources for easy-to-medium programming challenges:
If you need some guidance on how to approach your coding projects, check out How to Take Your First Coding Project from Start to Finish at LifeHacker.
So, pick a project, grab a friend, sign-up for a free trial of Squad and dive in!!
If you’re subscribed to the team plan, you may have noticed some changes this morning to your Squad account. Through testing with several large groups, we’ve added a number of new features to make collaborating in Squad even more convenient.
A team is seldom a single group; most teams end up dividing work between several different groups. We’ve made it easy to define groups within your team by opening the Settings page and selecting “Groups.” There, you’ll be able to create, edit and delete groups and subgroups.
With the addition of groups comes the implementation of roles for team members. There are three pre-defined roles:
The admin role has access to all information in the team account and can administer all users. The account creator is always the account admin. Admins can designate group leaders.
Once placed in a group, a group leader team member can administer his own group, as well as invite new members to the team as a whole. Group leaders can see the list of all team members, and add the to his group. The group leader can designate users within his group.
The user role has the fewest permissions. Users can edit only their own account information, and can only see members of their own groups. User-level team members cannot designate roles for anyone else, or change their role.
At the moment, these are the only options available for user permissions. However, we plan to add the capability to define different custom names and permissions in the future.
Optimized for large teams
Because we’ve been testing these features with large groups for the past few months, we can now confidently say that Squad is optimized for use with large groups. After a little code restructuring, we have seen it running smoothly with up to 50 people logged into a single team simultaneously. Although that is the largest group we’ve tried, it should run quickly regardless of group size.
New Syntax Highlighting Modes
We’ve updated CodeMirror to the latest version, and with that added a number of new syntax highlighting modes, including Perl and Scheme. In addition, there are several new color themes to choose from instead of just light and dark.
Squad for Customer Service
Squad is now primed and ready to facilitate excellent customer support of API integration, client-hosted applications, and other solutions that require working on code with your customers. The team plan now supports local file browsing by anyone invited to a workspace, even if they do not have a Squad account. Previously, and currently in the Individual plan, invitees were always welcome to participate but could not open or save files.
We hope you enjoy these updates and find them useful! As always, we love to hear from you, so shoot us an email at email@example.com or say hi on Twitter (@squadedit).
This summer has been a big one for Squad feature releases, and today’s release is arguably the biggest step so far. We’ve made workspaces live, as well as adding a number of other productivity-boosting updates.
We’ve mentioned the workspaces here before, but now that the feature is live we’re even more excited about it. At its simplest, a workspace is a combination of a set of files and a set of collaborators. For example, I can work on files A.html, B.html, and C.html with John, Susan, and Anna in one workspace, while in another workspace I’ll have files x.php, y.html, and z.css open and working with Mike, Susan, and Chris. We’ve added a menu item so you can switch between workspaces without opening a new browser tab.
You’ll also use this menu to create new workspaces and rename existing workspaces.
Team accounts get an unlimited number of workspaces, while the individual accounts can only create up to three workspaces at a time (old workspaces can be deleted in the Settings area). However, if an individual user is invited to another user’s workspace, she will be able to accept that invitation.
In order to make workspaces really useful, we’ve made them persistent. This means that the workspace autosaves, similar to Google Docs. As a result, if you start working at your office on one computer, then leave to continue working at home on a different computer, when you log in to Squad on this second computer your files will be exactly as you left them, even if you didn’t save before leaving.
Additionally, if you invite someone to share your workspace, they will be able to access it even if you are not signed into Squad.
One beef we had with the old invite system was that even if you were on a team with other people, in order to share your work you had to copy the link, send it to them, and they’d have to open a new browser tab or window. You had to do that for each team member, every time you wanted to share. It worked, but it wasn’t optimal.
The new Sharing menu allows you to choose how you share your workspaces. You can send and email with the share link directly from Squad, copy and paste the link as before, or—if you have teammates—simply check the box next to their name to add them to your workspace.
Those are the major updates for this round. We’re really excited about the new features, and hope you are, too. As always, let us know via Twitter or email if there’s anything we can do to make your Squad experience more pleasant and productive!
We’ve been working on some pretty serious changes here for the past month or so, and today we rolled out the first stage of our upgrades! These are mostly back-end changes to prepare for new features, but there are a few that you’ll notice right away.
Team Accounts are Open Again
We’ve opened up Team signups again, since we’ve added some new team-specific features and have more on the way.
New Look for Account Management
We’re making account management easier, especially for teams, so we’ve updated the interface where you can edit your contact and billing information.
File Browser Location Management
We’ve also added a new tab for everyone: File Browser Locations. On this page you’ll see the details for all your FTP/SFTP file browser locations, and will be able to edit these settings. No more deleting and re-adding due to a password change: just check “Change saved password” to update. In addition, you can now save your locations’ passwords by checking “Store password.”
Team File Browser Locations
If you have a Squad Team Account, any file browser locations you add will be visible to all team members. Storing a password for the location will allow any of your team members to work on the files in the location, which will be very helpful when we launch our next update, Workspaces. Note that if you don’t store a password, team members will have to enter the correct password to view and edit files.
Team Leaders can add, edit, and remove any file browser location created under a team account.
If you as an individual user are invited to collaborate with a team, their file browser locations will be visible to you, but any locations you have saved on your individual plan will not be visible to the team with which you are collaborating.
Improved Team Management
In addition to the file browser location management, team leaders can view a list of team members, their role in the team (leader, member or individual “Mercenary” invited to collaborate temporarily) and remove members from team as necessary. The Team Management tab also allows the team leader to invite additional members.
Note: If the email address entered corresponds with a user who already has an individual account, the user will be added to the team as a Mercenary and will not count against the 5 included users on the team plan. If the email does not correspond with an existing account, the user will be part of your team plan and will count as one of your 5 included users.
Last but not least, we’ve updated our pricing structure. We’ve bumped the individual plan down to $3.95/month to make is accessible to more users who are just learning to code and freelancers on a tight budget. The team plan is now $49.95/month, and additional users (past the 5 included) are $8.00/month.
Users on the old $9.00/month Individual plan will be automatically moved to the $3.95 plan, while users on the old $39.00/month Team plan will continue to pay only $39.00/month.
Coming Up Next…
We mentioned “workspaces” awhile ago, and we’re about halfway to getting that new feature out to you. You can think about a workspace as a set of files and a group of people that you can leave and return to as often as necessary. We had to beef up Squad’s user management capabilities before we could build the workspaces feature, but now we’re off and running with it. Workspaces will mean a completely re-imagined team plan, and should add value to the individual plans as well. Stay tuned by following us on Twitter, and let us know what you think of the changes by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
It was certainly a whirlwind few days out in Las Vegas for the Future of Web Apps 2011 Conference! After tons of great speakers, meeting some great people, and presenting Squad in front of an an audience, I was definitely ready to come back to Bloomington and implement the things I learned.
There was a lot to learn at FOWA 2011. The speakers presented on topics from business essentials to coding (HTML5 was a popular topic) to developing a thriving community for your company and users. Besides these topics, I paid attention to how the speakers actually presented, so that my own presentation skills might improve.
Whenever I go to an event like this, I have to break it down into digestible chunks in order to synthesize some meaning. Generally, that means coming up with the three biggest and most important things I learned. For FOWA 2011, the list is:
OK, I realize this isn’t groundbreaking, but it felt like a theme throughout the conference. Deanna Zandt convincingly illustrated that the Muppets can teach pretty much everything you really need to know about being socially successful (as an individual and/or as a company). Again, this isn’t rocket science, but she broke it down into five easy tasks that everyone can reasonably achieve. Joe Stump of Simple Geo gave a quick-and-dirty guide to starting a startup, which not surprisingly included successful strategies for choosing co-founders, employees, and investors. Matt Van Horn’s entire talk was on growing meaningful business relationships.
Part of this is probably my own bias: I went into FOWA specifically looking to network and build relationships with other entrepreneurs, and to work on my skills at doing so.
Like, really cool. I’d read a number of articles and guides about its capabilities and how to utilize them, but had been hesitant to do much with it because I was concerned about compatibility with older browsers. Fortunately, however, Squad is in a niche where the vast majority of our users are totally up-to-date on their browsers (see 10 Things You Didn’t Know About Squad #5). As we continue moving forward with our new Team plan and subsequent updates to the Individual plan, we’ll be looking for ways to integrate some HTML5 techniques.
Putting on my “presenter” hat, I made a careful effort to think about not just what the speakers were presenting, but how they were presenting. In preparation for my own presentation, I’d been counseled to tell stories to illustrate how Squad has worked for me and our team, so this again isn’t earth-shattering. While I did work a number of anecdotes into my presentation, listening to people like Alex Hunter and Tony Hsieh made it clear that instead of just telling stories, the whole presentation needs to be a story. How does one create a story instead of a presentation? Well, I’m not totally sure yet. Passion and conviction have something to do with it, I think. Talent sure doesn’t hurt. And certainly lots and lots of practice.
What to know what’s brewing over here at Squad? Check out “What We’re Thinking” over in our support forums to get a glimpse of the great changes coming soon to Squad. We’re really excited, and hope you will be, too!
You probably know most of what you really need to know about Squad. You know you can use it anywhere you have a computer and internet access. You know your settings and server locations will go with you wherever you access Squad. And you know that if you have a question or a problem, the Squad team will answer your email within a few hours (usually more quickly, but sometimes we do actually need to sleep). So you know the important stuff, but we’ve put together a list of ten things you probably don’t know about Squad. They probably won’t change how you use Squad, but at least you’ll know us a little better!
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