The tools we use for work

As a Drupal-based web development agency and a remote team, we can not work without online tools. We found it is impossible to use only one tool to serve all purposes. So, We need to integrate several tools into our workflow. Each tool has its own purpose. The below are the online tools we are using:

  • Slack. This is the tool we started to use recently. We used to use WeChat for internal communication. But we found there are certain limitations for WeChat. The top 1 limitation is everything is only on your mobile phone. You can not sync the contents between desktop and mobile. It becomes an obstacle for our workflow. Being a web development company and remote team, all we work in front of our laptops all the time. It doesn't make sense for us to use a mobile-only IM. After doing some research on alternatives, we decide to go with Slack. Slack is one of the most popular IM tools for tech companies in the world. Unlike WeChat, it is a tool designed for work. The good thing is Slack is not blocked in China. It made our transition smooth.
  • Trello. We started to use Trello since starting this company. It is a tool we can not live without. We use it as our company intranet. We put all the documentation and information on Trello. We also track the progress of our projects on Trello board.
  • GitLab. We use GitLab for technical issue tracking and version control. We used to try if we can use Trello for issue taking. Unfortunately, Trello can only do lightweight issue tracking. When it comes to complex projects, we need something more developer-oriented. We also host GitLab in our own server. In this way, we don’t need to worry about China firewall.
  • WeChat. We still use WeChat as an external communication tool with most of our clients in China. In China, most people use WeChat. It is impossible for us to ignore this powerful and the most popular mobile app in China. We also use WeChat to have online meetings. Like using WeChat for internal communication, the mobile-only approach doesn't fit our workflow. It makes us look for the alternative right now.
  • Zoom This is the tool we are still testing. We have internal meetings twice a week. The two biggest drawbacks of using WeChat are: 1. when someone calls your phone, it will interrupt the meeting. 2. You can not share the screen or use an online whiteboard. It makes our meeting less productive. That is why we decide to switch to another service. For the time being, we are still testing Zoom. The first requirement is this tool can not be blocked in China. Fortunately, it passed the first requirement. If it works well for a certain period, we will officially transit to this service.

After we integrate those tools into our workflow, the next step is how we can connect all tools together. That is the reason why we use Slack. Slack can be the hub connecting other apps, except for WeChat. WeChat has been a closed eco-system app for a long time. It is also a drawback of using WeChat. However, considering the current situation in China, we still need to keep it. But our goal is to use WeChat for client communication only eventually.