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Is Now The Right Time For Web-Based IDEs?

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Last week I covered CodeBubbles, a concept that adds some fresh thinking to IDEs. But the change in the IDE space doesn't end there. How about never needing to install an IDE on your desktop again?

Today I found CodeRun, an online IDE for ASP.NET, PHP and Ajax applications. Running the IDE requires no downloads, and seems to be a free service. I found it to be a really fast, responsive tool with the same look and feel as any normal development environment. There's full auto-complete available. The only place where things get weird is when you right-click expecting to find a menu that relates to the code. The other thing that bothers me is the fact that there is no Java support.But

Bespin can probably be regarded as one of the pioneers in the online IDE space, but I think CodeRun shows that we can create convincing applications that run on the browser. This is good news for developers who intend buying a tablet/iPad. In theory, you could work on tweaking some code while on the move with your mobile device.

Is this a trend that we can expect to see continue? Or do you think that the IDE's place on the desktop, not in the browser/cloud? I'm sure there must be more online IDEs, so if you've found any, please share them in the comments section.


IDEs belong on the desktop
43% (178 votes)
Browser based IDEs are the future
15% (62 votes)
Browser based IDEs have a long way to go, but might work out
42% (171 votes)
Total votes: 411


Fab Mars replied on Thu, 2010/04/01 - 9:46am

Personally, I happen to code in trains and planes, so I need not to be tied to an internet connection. I'm also afraid to have more latency with online IDEs (Desktop IDE's are already slow enough, thank you).

So I got tempted to cast my vote for IDE's belonging to the desktop.

One more thought made me definitely cast that: whoever is concerned by intellectual property (your company, you, your customer) will not accept to let any of his code somewhere online.

OK it might work in a "Managed Operations" model with strict SLAs, but you know how things work...who knows who's gonna 'have a look"? I saw such a case at work not long ago: my customer's email service got bought by its direct competitor. They had a fine contract, but they knew it would have been too tempting for the competitor to sneak into their emails. And they rushed away!

Are you willing to take such a risk anyway? Me, not.

Jim Bethancourt replied on Thu, 2010/04/01 - 9:59am

Is this related at all to the post two years ago to the day about the Netbeans 7.0 plans http://java.dzone.com/announcements/netbeans-70-plans-uncovered-ne, or is this a bit more serious? :-)

Anthony Rabaa replied on Thu, 2010/04/01 - 10:42am in response to: Fab Mars

I agree with fabmars. Further than that though, I am not a fan of the idea that I need to subscribe to an internet connection to perform basic tasks such as editing text (Google Docs) or writing an email. I feel like I would no longer own that which I write. It's more like I'm renting space to which at anytime I can be told to leave.

Where I work, builds take as much as 20 minutes to do. Would the client IDE be compiling this? Would it be some virtual in the cloud that was tasked to do it? Doing a "Hello World" app might be cool in a web IDE (heh, WIDE) but a large Java suite like what we have here would require some real cash to build in a cloud. Not sure if it's practical.

iPad is going to be a closed environment but I think WePad will be a little more open (you can attach your own hard drives and peripherals). Maybe what we'll see instead is Git and Eclipse being ported there and we can do distributed development rathar than thin development. This way, I can fire off a 20 minute build (probably longer on the WePad) and while it's working, flip it over and use the back side as a hot plate. Free multitasking! :-)

Thomas Mueller replied on Fri, 2010/04/02 - 2:53am

You don't need an internet connection. Just start the IDE 'server' on your machine as well.

Peter Karussell replied on Fri, 2010/04/02 - 5:24am

I really don't want to promote them but I think there is already a 'web based' IDE for java too: it is called wavemaker. See screencasts

Ibrahim Levent replied on Fri, 2010/04/02 - 8:28am

We need a web-based IDE for our Java rules. I searched for a solution but existing web IDEs not appropriate for our case. Our Java rules are updated in web-browser as Java source code. When Java rule is saved, it is compiled and loaded to the memory. If source code could be edited with web-based source code editor like a light Java IDE, it would eliminate to copy-paste the code to the classic IDE and copy-paste it again to the web interface after editing. We use a textarea element to edit code but it is not developer-friendly. The only capability is to see compile errors that we print to the web screen. Besides, I think desktop-based architecture is much more appropriate for a complete IDE.

Fabrizio Giudici replied on Fri, 2010/04/02 - 9:16am in response to: Thomas Mueller

And it seems that's yet another way to waste computing power with inflated architectures...

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