How Can Cloud IDEs Save Your Time? Part 1

How Can Cloud IDEs Save Your Time? Part 1

Cloud computing is definitely among the most dynamically developing industries in IT. It’s also definitely the one that promises to surprise the global IT community with new technologies, tools and services in 2013. Cloud hosting, document management and data storage have become common and ordinary even for non IT-savvy people. If you can store your docs and host your apps in the cloud, why can’t you code in your browser?

That’s what exactly the idea that came to enthusiasts from across a few years ago. As a result, the first web based IDEs emerged to revolutionize the market and the development process at large. Like with the majority of new cool things, cloud IDEs did not seem that cool for many developers who stood by offline IDEs and the conventional development, testing and code sharing practices. So, why are cloud IDEs cool and how can they improve software development productivity?

Here are a few keypoints.

Cloud IDE: Basics


The model of a typical web based IDE is quite simple. Users access their cloud workspaces through a website. In their cloud IDE accounts, they can use IDE’s own resources and services, for example to run and debug apps in the cloud, use code assistant etc. There are also external resources, i.e. third party services, like AWS or Google App Engine. Cloud IDE users can deploy to PaaS, update and manage apps directly from their cloud workspaces.

Projects are hosted on cloud IDE servers (with 256-bit encryption protection, for example). Traditionally, web based development environments provide free access for all users, however, private projects might be fee based (depends on the cloud vendor though).

Getting started and sharing your projects

Developers spend quite some time configuring environment for coding and testing applications. That’s certainly not a big deal for one developer with 1-2 PCs. Yet, when it comes to big teams of developers, it takes time and money. What if one tenant is created and all settings and properties are enclosed in one URL that you can share with the team? A project is created with particular development, VM and testing environment, as well as Git and PaaS. Once a developer receives an invitation and accepts it, he/she can collaborate on this project right away! Perhaps, no developers like those hours of joining or starting new projects spent for configuring environment and installing all necessary tools (the toolbox may be really huge in some cases). Onboarding in a cloud IDE is as easy as joining a group in Facebook. A few clicks will take you to a fully configured workspace.

5 Minutes to Create a Deploy an App?

With Cloud IDE you need no more than 5 minutes to create a simple Hello World app (say, Java or Python) and deploy it to Google App Engine or CloudFoundry, while the same process with Eclipse will take up to 4-5 hours (downloads, installation, configuring settings etc)! Isn’t it much just for a trial attempt? Check out the below video to see how easy it is to create a simple app and deploy it to GAE with a cloud IDE. Can Eclipse perform faster, even if everything is downloaded, configured and fine-tuned?

The answer is quite obvious.

Arduous discussions can be started on whether to go with an IDE on your machine or use a web based one, but a simple demo will show you the real mettle of a cloud based IDE. Of course, this is not to say that offline IDEs, and Eclipse in particular, have no advantages at all. Let’s be frank, Eclipse still rocks especially when it comes to Junit testing (convenient graphical interface), numerous plugins and, of course, its open source nature. Flexibility of Eclipse is what makes it incredibly popular among a huge coding community worldwide. By the way, the multitude of Eclipse adepts is one of the factors behind its popularity.

Read Part 2 Tomorrow: Instant build, commit and deploy

Guest Post By Eugene Ivantsov

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