Case Study: How WebStorm Is Used by RoadBotics

roadbotics-logoToday we’d like to share with you how WebStorm is used at RoadBotics, a company that was spun out of Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Mellon University’s Robotics Institute in 2016. RoadBotics empowers towns and cities to make objective, data-driven decisions about their roads and infrastructure. They help their customers to automate inspections and get actionable data about road networks, including the identification of individual distresses.

We spoke with Matt Lucas, Head of Product at RoadBotics.

Hi Matt! Could you tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do at RoadBotics?

matt-lucas-roadboticsI guide the success of our products and lead the cross-functional team which is responsible for improving those products. The team that I lead includes a group of software engineers and a few product managers. I have a strong technology and engineering background. Before RoadBotics, I worked as a Chief Technology Officer at a machine learning startup.

What size is your team at RoadBotics, and how large is the company?

There are 14 people in my team at the moment, and about half of them are software engineers. Most of them do JavaScript and TypeScript development and use WebStorm. The rest work in other languages, such as Python, and use PyCharm Community Edition. There are altogether around 65 employees in RoadBotics.

Had the JavaScript/TypeScript developers in your team used other tools before they switched to WebStorm? 

Yes, we used a variety of other tools previously, primarily VS Code. At some point, we decided it would be good to streamline and unify our development environments. We believed this would help us increase productivity in the long run, as everyone would be working from the same toolbox. We looked at several popular text editors, but they lacked some of the useful features available in a more comprehensive integrated development environment, which meant that they were not an option. We knew that JetBrains made great developer tools and I had even used PyCharm in the past, so we decided to give WebStorm a try.

And why did you decide to stay with WebStorm? 

We really liked that WebStorm came with a lot of premium features already prepackaged, because this meant that we could get started quickly while reducing our dependence on additional third parties. Having all of our software licenses in one place has also made it easier to manage access to our development tools. Another reason why we stayed with WebStorm is that having the same development environments allows us to run debug sessions more quickly. Also, the process of code refactoring has become much faster.

Could you elaborate on why debugging has become much faster now?

Since everyone is on the same page from an environmental perspective, we can immediately move into actual code debugging. Previously, we had to spend a lot of time figuring out which work environment everyone had. For example, we had to determine what editor was being used, what plugins were installed, whether everyone had X, Y, Z needed for debugging. Besides that, the built-in debugging functionality in WebStorm far surpasses the other editors we tried, in part by not requiring additional extensions. The ability to add breakpoints and step through the code inside the IDE streamlines the process as well – not needing to deep dive into your code through the browser interface to find a line and flag it there is a big plus. You can keep your mental focus in one window, stepping through your source code without being distracted by switching tasks.

Thanks! What are your five favorite WebStorm features? 

That would be Live Templates, the ability to have multiple cursors, live code editing and being able to see your changes in Chrome, the integrated debugger, and the support for EditorConfig that allows configs to be shared.

And your five favorite WebStorm shortcuts? 

I’d say it’d be Ctrl/Cmd+D to duplicate the line you’re on; Ctrl/Cmd+C and Ctrl/Cmd+X to copy/cut a line without highlighting; shortcuts for Live Templates (again!); Ctrl/Cmd+Shift+A to search for an action, and Ctrl/Cmd+Shift+E to view recently viewed and edited code.

We’d like to thank Matt and RoadBotics for taking part in this Q&A.

If you use WebStorm and would like to share your experience with us, please let us know by leaving a comment below or contacting us.

The WebStorm team

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