Everyone knows fear. Of some sort. Fear of darkness. Afraid of thunder. Spiders. Ghosts. For me, it was wasn’t a palpable fear, but I had a very hard time letting go of the feature packed crutch that Visual Studio had become. I had some success with Eclipse and even Brackets, but any attempt to switch to a browser based IDE was quickly met with unusable features, slow auto-complete, no internet connection or some other deal breaker. But come on now, it’s August of 2014, surely there is at least one viable option? Someone must have taken up the torch by now. And yes, to quickly answer that question, there are viable options.
Each to their own
I’m not going to say that what works for me will work for you. In fact, probably exactly the opposite. Each developer will no doubt have their own list of must-have and not-so-important features. What I pass off as a second rate feature is probably a deal-breaker for you and that obscure feature that you never turn on is my favorite crutch. For me, the biggest thing to overcome was the bloated desktop IDE I use every day at my day job as a consultant. Most clients in the enterprise space that my employer serves either uses Visual Studio and a .NET stack or Eclipse on the Java platform. I’m primarily a .NET and web front end guy which means I use Visual Studio every day. Couple that with a client who thinks 64bit is a bad thing and that more than 4GB of RAM is a waste of money and you have a very painful seven and a half hours every day. After 5 o’clock, I switch to my indie game/HTML5 alternate personality. In this world, NetBeans, Dreamweaver and Brackets have held a firm grasp on my IDE time. I’ve always liked coding HTML in Dreamweaver. Probably because it was one of the first IDEs I used for web development. NetBeans was a good alternative when a Dreamweaver license wasn’t available and Brackets has been a more recent addition.
Enter the cloud
I started playing around with the concept of the online IDE about a year ago. I won’t mention specifics but several options that I tried just didn’t pan out for me. Call me fickle. Lately though, I have been on a mad quest to move everything on my computer to cloud storage. Dropbox, Google Drive, One Drive all run on my computer syncing various aspects of my life to the cloud. I created a symlink on my Windows 8.1 mobile workstation so my WAMP www folder synced to a folder in Google Drive. Problem solved! This however only works to a degree, as many government firewalls block sites and services such as cloud storage, but not cloud IDEs.
My chosen one
I have have discovered and started using Codio. For me, this online IDE gives me the features I need to be productive (responsive auto-complete) with the capacity to grow (unlimited public projects for free and unlimited private projects with subscription) at a price point I really like ($8 USD/month). Disclaimer: I don’t work for Codio, nigher do I have any vested interest. I honestly think making the jump to the cloud wasn’t so much about Codio being the best, as it was about having a good first impression and being the right state of mind. I was just ready. This is obviously a work in progress though. Once I have given a year or so to cloud development I will post an update on my journeys and what lessons I might have learned on the way.
What about you? Have you made the jump to the cloud for your development tools yet? I would love to hear your story whether you decided to stay on the desktop or made the skyward leap to the cloud.