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CoScreen: Screen Sharing for Engineers (coscreen.co)
245 points by mmettler 10 months ago | hide | past | favorite | 92 comments

I'm not sure how to ask this question in a way that doesn't sound snarky, so having said that I'll try:

At the end of the day, is this beneficial enough to justify a completely new product versus just sharing your screen/window over Zoom (etc.)?

When I'm pairing, I prefer to have a single "driver" where the pair is there to work through the bigger ideas and course correct code level decisions. I've never really wished that I could make edits in a window on my end that the remote peer can see in real time, but again, maybe I am missing out on some life altering ProTip to my remote pairing technique :p

Sell me on it! I'm sure the product creators are here watching this discussion, change my mind :)

CTO of CoScreen here.

I think it's a really good question and not snarky at all.

This is honestly one of the biggest hurdles I think we have towards adoption.

We have bet a lot on the benefits of producing frictionless remote app-level sharing.

At the moment you can share one application, or your entire desktop with other tools. Then there is the friction of allowing sharing, asking for sharing, or even down to just knowing where the remote user's cursor is at.

CoScreen eliminates all of that. Anyone can share any window at any time. You see their shared cursor over your window that is translated into the adjusted coordinate space for that window.

You can be discussing a piece of code, share vim in Alacritty, or iTerm. The remote user looks up some documentation, and immediately shares it with you. Or you have a Android/iOS emulator that you want to immediately preview your work in.

Basically you're working in a shared working space more analogous to what you would experience in the office.

It's a paradigm shift from video conferencing, and traditional screen sharing tools that I think has to be experienced to be understood.

That being said it's going to be a great challenge to make this experience more transparent, and we are actively working on different scaling modes, the ability to move windows independent of remote users, and other concerns that we think will take it to the next level.

Our goal is to facilitate things like pair programming by fading into the background and just letting you continue with your normal workflow while not thinking about the tooling behind it.

Thanks for taking the time to answer my bad question sincerely!

Here's a situation that actually comes up all the time in my remote pairing sessions. Both peers have mutli-screen setups where a terminal (tailing logs, etc.), an IDE, and a web browser (perhaps even the browser dev tools) are all in separate windows, where some windows are on one display, some on another. With CoScreen, would "hey, can we check the logs real quick?" become as simple as the other peer clicking the window to add it to the session? That could be pretty big on its own IMO!

Also really useful, as the non-driving peer is looking up documentation and adding it to the session for group reference.

I'd love to try this out eventually, joining a new team soon and perhaps I can pull it off there if/when pairing needs arise!

"Thanks for taking the time to answer my bad question sincerely!"

No problem! It's actually a great conversation starter.

"With CoScreen, would "hey, can we check the logs real quick?" become as simple as the other peer clicking the window to add it to the session?"

Basically yes, there is a tab that shows above your window.

At the moment we have a shared context space, so your windows have a relative location that is based on the layout of the remote screen.

Ultimately this helps in like the pair programming scenario you make above, but is a weakness in other situations: we are working on a model that will let you break all of the window locations apart, or relatively translate the position of another user's windows wherever you want.

"I'd love to try this out eventually, joining a new team soon and perhaps I can pull it off there if/when pairing needs arise!"

We'd love to hear your feedback. We rely heavily on our community to determine our development path, so please reach out to us when you do, and leave feedback!

I see download options for Mac and Windows. Is Linux support in the works? Slack and Teams have us covered.

Linux support is indeed on the roadmap. We've got Windows done only last week and we'll get at it next...

Happy to keep you in the loop, here's the sign up: https://form.typeform.com/to/tWKFDe

Ah, a bit of a shame that it isn't supported yet. This looks like something that might interest my team and I would've loved to try it, but we're all on Linux. Looking forward to hearing about that being implemented.

I hate to say it but this sounds fairly close-minded.

Does this need to be a new product? Yes.

There are no great collaboration tools for developers I've ever seen like this. I'm immediately willing to pay whatever it costs to get this for my team. No more awkward calls trying to communicate complex concepts that don't often have terminology unless you make it up. Quickly highlight and explain a conflict without back and forth or frustration about how and where it fails over 5 minutes, just kindly ask if they wouldn't mind and start editing in the use-case or failure-case to explain the concept instantly.

Have you ever had to grab someone's mouse and keyboard awkwardly to get to the point of a conversation or feature? You never have the need to do that again.

Ever had the displeasure of trying to explain something that couldn't be explained by text / call in person over their shoulder ending up back-seat driving? Never again.

I mean, you can say it it's okay! I can't encapsulate my ENTIRE way of thinking into every comment I make, which has the unfortunate side effect of sometimes coming across as "close-minded".

For the record, as you can see from my reply to a sibling comment from the CTO, I am legitimately interested in CoScreen and products like it.

So why did I ask what I did? I know the CoScreen people are watching, so I took advantage and asked for some reasoning about why "this time, it's different." And I got a good answer, too!

Does your product support iPad with drawing? Because difficulty of explaining is often relieved with visuals, as opposed to merely gesturing at something with the mouse. It’s something that’s keeping me on Zoom vs the competition.

The way we're doing this is that we use Miro (https://miro.com) on an iPad, open the same file on the desktop and share that window using CoScreen.

That way you can draw on the iPad, share the content via CoScreen with your peers and they can even draw at the same time - all while sharing & interacting with other windows in parallel. Does that address your needs?

I couldn’t have said it better myself @bmcahren! Perfectly summarizes the pain points we’ve experienced that led us to build this. (CPO of CoScreen here)

Watch Doug Engelbart sell you on it 53 years ago in 1968. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yJDv-zdhzMY

The fact that this isn't a reality in our every day computer use is sad. Glad to see CoScreen picked up the ball which Microsoft and Apple dropped long ago.

would really prefer this implemented as an open protocol instead of a product.

There used to be an app called ScreenHero, which did. this, and it was really great. For some reason Slack bought it and killed it, but I think it validated the use case

First, as employee number one at Screenhero…thank you for the kind words :D I'm immensely proud of the tech we built there.

Second, if you liked Screenhero, you're going to love CoScreen. Instead of sharing one computer's entire desktop, CoScreen lets each participant share their own windows onto everyone else's computer, effectively creating a shared desktop. It's pretty magical.

That was not clear from the landing page at all, but if you describe it like that it sounds pretty impressive.

Yep. ScreenHero was the absolute bomb for a remote-only company like the one I worked at at the time. A sad day indeed when Slack pulled a MS/Skype on it.

I was a huge ScreenHero fan, and will never forgive Slack for killing it

After Slack acquired screenhero but before they killed it, i actually convinced my employer to get a paid slack in part because it was the only way then to get screenhero. then they killed it shortly after we did that. oops.

The original founder went on to create https://screen.so which is what we use for our team. Free since Covid too

In sincerity, can this stand on its own as a corporate line item? Likely. Therefore, why shouldn’t this business exist?

Whoa whoa whoa I am not saying the company should not exist. I was simply trying to poke at it to get some more in-depth answers!

We use TeamViewer which offers multiple user keyboard and mouse control and it is awesome. We can pair or mob and handover control instantly, we usually set a 5-7 minute timer and rotate through the team to keep everyone engaged.

If it saves me from the struggle of keeping a screen share working in Zoom I think it's worth it :) My experience is that Zoom suddenly just stops streaming the video to the other participants

Screenhero founding engineer here. I've been working with the CoScreen team for a few months now, and I am incredibly impressed with the product and the team. They've taken our idea and really pushed it forward—it's not collaborative screen sharing anymore, it's a shared desktop which anyone can drop a window onto. (I'm only a little embarrassed we didn't imagine this UX back in 2013).

If you've never used something like this before, think back to a Zoom call you've had recently where someone else was sharing their screen, and you really wish you could have just driven for a moment instead of dictating instructions. Or just shared a window on your own desktop to illustrate a point. CoScreen lets you do all of this seamlessly.

Anyway, absolutely endorse this product.

What is your opinion on https://screen.so? They are made by your ex-colleagues.

^ Direct comparison of CoScreen.co vs Screen.so and ScreenHero (RIP)

I've been using meet.jit.si for pair programming because it's one of the few collaboration tools that allows multiple people to share screen at once. I'll put my coworkers screen on my 2nd monitor, and that setup has been really productive.

CoScreen is the rare tool that would also fit into this workflow.

Great to hear! We're huge Jitsi fans and it's actually the video backend of CoScreen.

If you want to know the whole story, watch the conversation between CoScreen CTO Jason and Jitsi mastermind Emil Ivov which we published a couple of days ago: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7nODpF8JjHE

Looks amazing. I love that you guys have Doug Engelbart subtly in your demo video on the main page. Finally we can do something Doug was able to achieve 53 years ago! No seriously, great work. This is what computers are meant for.

As a Linux user I have to ask, when is the Linux release? As soon as that's out I'm throwing zoom away.

CTO of CoScreen here: It has been a grueling labor of love to get where we are, and there still is a lot of work ahead of us. And we can only acknowledge the shoulders of the giants we obviously stand on, like Doug Engelbart.

Linux is definitely on our roadmap.

We want to know which distros are you most interested in for us to officially support first?

The eternal answer "on our roadmap", translates from PR-speak to actual-speak: "no significant userbase to justify any work".

I guess we'll stick with gnu-screen and tmux for the time being.

I realize your skepticism to my original answer, but I am 100% earnest about our intentions regarding Linux. It isn't a secondary concern for us, and we know how important it is for engineers.

Most of the developers on our team are avid Linux users.

My previous job was writing eBPF security drivers and device drivers, and I have used Linux for years.

Linux is very near and dear to our hearts, and when I say it's on our roadmap, I mean it.

Totally understand your frustration. We started with macOS, then delivered Windows in around 3 months (just launched) and will tackle Linux next but granted that it is a ton of work given our deep integration into operating systems and we want to get it right.

I'm an Ubuntu user but Debian in general is good. I'm sure others will chime in.

Thanks for the feedback: Ubuntu LTS will definitely be one of our first supported targets.

We hope to provide some universal binary, but ultimately our testing and in-house resources for verification are limited, and we dogfood our solution every single day on every one of our supported platforms.

It will be interesting to see how widely adopted Wayland will become: CoScreen is very dependent on a lot of display server/OS level wizardry that honestly was unexpectedly difficult to achieve.

One option is to go with snap and/or FlatPak as a distribution method which could cover more distros.

Ubuntu LTS vote from me


Engelbart was a terrific Easter egg.

Coincidentally we're based on 8x8.vc, and good friend with the folks at Jitsi.

It's an amazing product.

We're considering in the future opening up the ability to point CoScreen to your own private Jitsi deployment (Technically this is possible today, but through our unsupported inspector tool).

So your video won't touch any of our infrastructure.

"Stop giving up your privacy by sharing your entire screen."

Good point. I've lost track of the number of times I've noticed some "dodgy" background icon, other browser tab, or application on someone's desktop during a Zoom/Teams meeting.

Venturebeat article on seed round funding, and general public release, including windows:


This is cool, congrats guys

For the CoScreen team, I'm curious how the existing competition (https://tuple.app/, https://screen.so/) factors in to your decision to build/position this - do you believe you have a different vision than they do? Features they can't match? A better team that will out-execute? Out-market?

Startup founders are often told not to launch a product that has direct competitors already, so I'm curious to hear your take!

Screenhero engineer here, and currently working with CoScreen. TBH, Tuple adn Screen both seek to re-create Screenhero (and do an amazing job of that!) CoScreen, while using similar technology, has completely rethought the UI from the ground up, and is a huge step forward that the others are going to have a hard time catching up with. Instead of one person sharing their screen, with CoScreen, each participant can share individual windows into a shared environment that feels as natural as native windows. It's a fundamentally different vision for how to do remote collaboration.

Tech question: do you plug in to the native compositing UI system or do you have your own cross-platform UI compositing code?

We use a custom native compositor on both of the current supported operating systems.

What's your stack? Mostly C++?

I've heard the opposite advice.

Don't worry about competitors, worry about making your product the best it can possibly be (which if successful would be better than competitors).

Looks promising. I've used and enjoyed VSCode Live Share before https://code.visualstudio.com/learn/collaboration/live-share

Two great features they have are:

- The ability share a local service to your peer by simply forwarding a port.

- Remote debugging. Participant 1 can start a debugging session and Participant 2 has access to the full debugging introspection without interfering with the host's session.

We also use VSCode quite a bit at CoScreen and it works great in combination with it. The issue is that VSCode Live Share alone only enables you to collaborate on code and partially on CLI.

But if you need to debug e.g. in Chrome inspector, review logs in some other browser, explore a design in Figma, etc., you need a tool like CoScreen to go beyond code.

VS Code Live Share is one example of what I hope the future of remote collaboration will actually be: sharing of high-level semantic data rather than mere pixels and input events. The former is way more accessible with screen readers and other assistive tools, for one thing.

To the CoScreen folks watching this thread: Have you thought about possible ways of handling the special case where one of the collaborators has a disability and needs to use a screen reader, magnifier, voice input, or some other accessibility tool? I have expertise in this area, so maybe we could discuss it more privately.

Of course, this is also a challenge when everyone is together in the same place.

CTO of CoScreen here.

One of my first forays into video conferencing was programming nTouch Mobile for Sorenson Communications: https://www.sorensonvrs.com/ntouchmobile

Which was a video conferencing application for performing VRS for deaf and hard of hearing users, originally on the first Android G1, and the first iPhone.

I'm extremely interested in accessibility, and I can say seeing people get together, laugh, chat, and play, via nTouch was one of the most fulfilling moments of my life.

People make products greater than the sum of their parts, and if CoScreen could be helpful in one of these avenues, we would love to explore it.

I heard the test techs there were some real assholes, especially the physicist ones :)

(Hi Jason)

<.< Oh no, my past is catching up with me...

Thanks for bringing this up. We have discussed this a few times but don't have much expertise in the area so I'd love to chat as we actually believe CoScreen could make a difference here.

Please drop me a mail at till@coscreen.co!

Really glad to see this.

I use MS Teams at work at a large organization and Microsoft really has everything tightly integrated well. Their screen sharing/remote control is very functional. I haven't used VS Code Pair Programming yet, but again, assume it's very functional as well.

Zooms domination is really interesting since the Enterprise Chat war is pretty much lost between Slack and Microsoft. So the market is really for Startups and Small-Medium Organizations.

With this new crop of Remote Collaboration Services, is this a battle against Zoom, or Retribution against Slack after they Sunset Screenhero?

Screen.so - Slack Integration. $10/mth/user when it's not free anymore. Designed for many people at once?

Tuple - No Integration, and the main page "calls out" Zoom and Slack. $25/mth/user. Designed mainly for Pair Programming?

CoScreen - Integration with Slack and Zoom. $18/mth/user when it's not free anymore. Designed for many people at once. Website is rich in information for many possible use cases.

FYI, looks like the link on the FAQs for Windows is messed up in the second question.

Is CoScreen available on macOS, Windows, Linux, Mobile, or Web? macOS: yes (download - requires macOS Mojave 10.14.6 and above) Windows: yes(download - requires macOS Mojave 10.14.6 and above) Linux, Mobile, Web: coming soon, sign up for the wait list

Oops, thanks for the note. Will fix right away...

Fixed... This is what it should have said: - macOS: yes (requires macOS Mojave 10.14.6 and above) - Windows: yes (requires Windows 10 and above) - Linux, Mobile, Web: coming soon, sign up for the wait list

Thanks for the quick fix. CoScreen looks really great!

CoScreen has been great for our engineering standups, truly collaborative development and debugging etc; it's just removes so much friction for distributed teams

Great to hear @xeno42! Exactly what we're trying to achieve.

Question: RAM/CPU/BANDWIDTH usage compared to other screen sharing tools?

We tried this today for the first time, my co-dev partner and I, 13 time zones away. We are very used to the multi-step process that it takes to share info during these co-dev sessions, so I understand the pain points CoScreen is going for.

Because we do it 10x a day, we don't think about how many steps it takes to say, "I found this..." and paste a link into Viber, then the other person opens their browser, which you may or may not be able to see but definitely can't control. How many times has your co-dev said, "Yeah, move down a bit. Yeah, a bit more."

I think the idea of CoScreen is that, instead of all these non-connected windows, you just say to other person, "here!" and share what you have found -- if that's in the browser, in Atom, in GitKraken, whatever. Also, the fact that you don't have to worry about sharing other windows or what's on your desktop is a real plus. Too much RL stuff creeps into work screen and app sharing already and I think this can help reduce that.

Our experience today was less than optimal. We found the app to be too slow to be usable in production. It could be a "Zoom Mondays" kind of overload problem and we are definitely willing to keep trying it. I think the time saved from sharing real windows and working in each others' windows is worth it if they can get this to primetime.

Why is this free? What data is being collected?

Good question. It is entirely free today because we wanted to make it available to as many teams as possible as quickly as possible. And to be frank, we focused on building out the first version of the app and simply didn't get to building out the billing integration yet.

Even once we start charging, we're intending to enable most users to use it for free up to a certain threshold and feature set. We're planning to charge 18 USD per user per month for the Pro version and any feedback is welcome! Details: https://www.coscreen.co/pricing

Last but not least and to be clear: we have never sold and will never sell your data. Here's our policy: https://app.termly.io/document/privacy-policy/f8dd1607-7755-...

When I start a session, there is a comfort tone in the background. It sounds like static even when I turn my microphone off and there is nobody else there. This fuzzy sound is also one of the most irritating things about Zoom.

Is there any way to get rid of it?

Very mysterious, we haven't heard about that one yet.

We are aware of OS issues with certain bluetooth configurations (details: https://support.coscreen.co/hc/en-us/articles/1500002060342-...) and a Windows problem with a buzzing noise (more: https://thegeekpage.com/how-to-fix-audio-buzzing-in-windows-...) but those seem to be different problems. Drop us a note at hello@coscreen.co and we'll try to help...

I'd love to use this while teaching my kid how to program. That goes better if we both have access to the same screen. We tried repl.it but it's too wonky (cursor doesn't quite stay synchronized etc) - I think repl.it tries to do too much and ends up not so great. I could use coscreen with vs code. We're a linux household though - we'll be waiting.

To amplify this, a significant use case could be: Associates (e.g. family members) hanging out in the same room.

You certainly don't want to share all of your windows, but you [both/all] want to act immediately on "Look what I found."

Also: Helping with homework.

It's such a nice tool, I like it a lot.

Thanks so much @SmilerRyan. Please keep the feedback coming!

This is very interesting, I'll have to check it out with my team. I think it will be good tool for pairing!

Awesome, let us know what you think! (till@coscreen.co, CEO & Co-founder of CoScreen)

Please forgive me if it's been answered, but how does CoScreen.Co compare to Screen.So?

Np, please check out Don's response: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=26584664

In brief: CoScreen enables simultaneous, multi-user screen sharing (> 1 users) and multi-user remote control (> 2 users)

CoScreen has been a workflow game-changer for my team— the concept is merit worthy IMO.

Nice tool, For some reason I was not able to find the price when browsing the pricing page on mobile. It’s really long so maybe I just missed it but the closest thing to price I found was “start for free”

Not bad at all, the next time I work on a side project I'll try to see if I can get my teammates to collab using this.

I don't know exactly how you're going to get bigger companies to bite though, the vast vast majority of companies have settled on a video conferencing solution which allows for screen sharing. To be completely realistic I don't imagine you'll be able to compete in the Enterprise space. It might make more sense for you to have a tip jar on the website for your free users to donate a few bucks whenever they find the service useful. Something super casual, for example if this helps me and my team get something done on the side I'll have no problem with giving you five bucks

We do mostly mobbing. We spend a lot of time explaining to the driver what to type. I see an opportunity to spend more time on ideas and less on specifics of what and where to type.

I can imagine that when sharing a text editor, each user really wants their own cursor, so both can type together and not make gibberish...

And then you start looking towards a google-docs like model...

'screen -x' is screen sharing for engineers.

CTO of CoScreen:

I use TMux/Vim like this, and I totally agree if everyone is using similar tooling, screen/Tmux is good enough for sharing code.

Try CoScreen for non-invasive video/audio chat in that case, and don't use the screen sharing features.

It's made to get completely out of your way, to be persistent in the background.

And if you want to share an emulator, or documentation in Chrome, it's a click away.

Eventually we will build integrations with VSCode livesharing and other IDEs as well.

We want to help developers get things done they way they want to.

tmate.io these days, but yeah.

I know Linux support is planned, but do you have any timeline?

Does it work when sharing windows between windows and Mac?

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