Where parallels cross

Interesting bits of life

Emacs as your code-compass: quietly show who can help

Too long; didn't read

When you open a file, you want to know who to ask for help. Just in case. Now code-compass shows you the list of contributors any time you open a file under Git.

The problem

I explained earlier how important is for me to know who to ask for help. They should be a click away. Imagine one of my Incident Response Team day: I am all focused on something, when a Slack message shows up in my agenda. A client is having an issue! After a little investigation it becomes clear what piece of code is causing troubles. Finally I get there, and... I am unfamiliar with it. Also nothing looks wrong: it is time to call the cavalry! But wait who is the cavalry?

This is where a mix of (ma)git blame and shortlog can help me. But wait again: now I am all focused on the terminal!

If you think about it, this distraction is in the way. It would be better if we could delegate this to my tools. So we could finally focus on the valuable stuff!

And there is a solution

This is pretty easy to achieve with Emacs: we can print the list of contributors any time we open a file! You can invoke c/display-contributors to see the list when you need it. Still code-compass runs that any time you open a file. You can just look at your Messages buffer to know who to ping. If you want to turn this off, define (setq c/show-contributors-on-opening nil) in your configuration.

If you use emacs-slack there is more for you. Say you want to open a chat with the person that knows most about the current file. If you use c/display-contributors, you need to read the contributor and then open manually a chat. That is fine, but still distracting! You may be onto something and you now need to switch focus to open a chat. Instead, you could run c/slack-main-contributor. It works by taking the mail of the main contributor from Git and resolving it to a Slack user. For this to work you need set a default team and set (setq slack-prefer-current-team t). That way it easy to find the user via the Slack team you are in.

To set a default team you need a configuration that looks like:

 :name "xxx"
 :token "xxx"
 :default t ;; *this is necessary*


Do not interrupt your flow! Let Emacs suggest you useful contacts. Use c/display-contributors to see who can help you! And integrate your messaging tools to minimize friction in your work.

Happy collaborating!