12 Cloud-Based IDEs Boost Productivity, ROI

Boni Satani is a digital marketing professional working with a custom software development company Cygnet Infotech. He can be reached via Twitter or Google+.

Today, thanks to cloud computing, most people have instant access to information, tools and applications that can help them perform their corporate and personal tasks better. That’s not the case, however, on the development side: Nearly 15 million developers and software companies use traditional development environment, with all of the limitations that come with operating systems for developing applications and software. They code, compile and debug applications while sitting in front of a system that supports the given development environment or IDE.

Problems with OS and desktop-based IDEs

In today’s agile market, developers have to keep up with the coding, compiling and debugging activities, and release software/applications by a given deadline. Desktop/OS-specific IDEs can impede the development process—and potentially cause missed deadlines--because they do not give developers the flexibility and autonomy to work anytime from anywhere.

OS/ desktop-based IDEs can also be a problem when an application or software program is a joint effort of many developers: Amendments and the management of releases is difficult because different developers have worked in their system-specific IDEs.

It’s imperative in fast-paced, competitive business environments for developers to find a coding environment that is free from the challenges of specific OSes and machines.

Advantages of working in cloud-based IDEs

Using an online or cloud-based development environment unlocks the following benefits for software developers and software development companies, boosting productivity and ROI

  • Programming workspace is a single and centralized environment in which multiple people can co-build, co-edit and co-debug
  • Easy and instant access to codes and libraries through the web
  • Enables developers to work on the go without the need to occupy systems with loads of heavy codes and data
  • Accessible through all devices and browsers
  • Facilitates better collaboration among developers located at different locations
  • Reduces duplication of work

There are several cloud-based IDEs available that can take your coding and application programming task to the next level. Here are 12 cloud-based IDEs that are well worth considering for your organization’s development needs

1. Cloud9: Cloud9 is a popular cloud-based IDE that supports development in 23 different programming languages, including HTML, CSS, PHP, Python, Ruby, XML, Java, JavaScript and Node.js. Considered a modern and secure IDE, Cloud9 not only allows developers to collaboratively code but also enables them to chat in real time.

Cloud9 supports popular version control systems like Git, Mercurial and SVN, and comes with features like drag and drop, multiple cursors and code folding.

Cloud9 can be used to create websites, web applications and mobile applications. The environment also includes an SSH terminal that enables developers to easily execute shell commands.

Cloud9 comes in Standard and Premium versions. The Standard version is free and includes one private and three FTP workspaces. The Premium version provides six private workspaces and unlimited FTP and public workspaces at just $12 per month.

2. CodeRun Studio: CodeRun Studio is an ideal development environment if you are considering cross-platform development of web applications in the cloud. It is a fully featured IDE that lets you code, run and test online. It is well worth considering if you are developing an application using open web standards (such as HTML, CSS, JavaScript or PHP) or the Microsoft stack (C#, .NET, Silverlight and AJAX). CodeRun Studio supports databases such as SQL Server 2005 and Amazon SimpleDB, and it is compatible with Visual Studio, which adds to developers’ productivity.

CodeRun also includes features like syntax coloring, a powerful online debugger, multilingual support, automatic code completion, code sharing with hyperlinks and single-click deployment. All of this combines to provide a phenomenal environment for development and debugging online.

The best part about this cloud-based IDE: It is completely free.

3. Codeanywhere: Codeanywhere is a lightweight and fast development environment that will likely address most if not all your coding needs--anywhere, anytime. Codeanywhere supports development in PHP, HTML, JavaScript, XML and CSS. It does not support Java.

Codeanywhere runs on all the major web browsers. It is integrated with an FTP client that supports both FTP and SFTP servers. It also supports Dropbox, enabling developers to synchronize, edit and publish files and projects from Dropbox directly to a live environment. Codeanywhere also extends support for leading mobile platforms for developing iPhone, iPad, Android and BlackBerry apps.

Signup is free with limited features and ads; you can get the ad-free premium version for $5 per month or $50 for a yearly license.

4. Codenvy: Codenvy is a highly popular cloud-based IDE for server-side application development in Java. Codenvy supports development in three types of Java projects: library, WAR and Spring. It also supports development in classic dynamic languages like Ruby, PHP and Python. It is built upon a scalable and extensible architecture and comes with a powerful front end.

Development in Codenvy is much similar to that in Eclipse, and includes features like refactoring, code completion, syntax highlighting, continuous integration, and Git and PaaS deployment.

Codenvy provides impressive integration with Amazon Elastic, Google App Engine, App Fog, Cloud Bees and Open Shift. It also offers clone workspaces, multimodule projects and pair program capabilities, providing virtually seamless collaboration capabilities.

Codenvy comes in both free and paid versions. The free version offers development support for unlimited public projects. Other projects will require the premium version, which costs $9 per month.

5. Compilr: Compilr is another environment that helps users code and build apps no matter what operating system they use. It supports languages and technologies including C, C#, C++, Java, HTML, Ruby, PHP and Python, making it a good choice for developing apps for mobile, tablets and desktops.

On the features front, Compilr supports all desktop and mobile web browsers, and offers HTML and Java preview applets, code completion, multilingual support, an intuitive and customizable interface, and much more. Compilr is known for keeping coding frustrations at bay because it comes with simple-to-use tools available in the cloud with just a few mouse clicks.
Compilr is also free to use.

6. Koding: Koding, previously known as Kodingen, supports full VM environments, as well as almost all the programming languages and libraries. These include PHP, Python, Perl and JavaScript, along with Django, Ruby on Rails and Node.js.

It’s a great IDE that not only lets users develop programs, but also provides a collaborative classroom environment for students to share and learn in real time. It features one of the fastest and most responsive terminals, and supports every terminal-oriented program, database and compiler.

Koding integrates social media features, and has a large community to support large public and private projects. It is free to use for unlimited projects, but with limited resources.

7. Icenium: Icenium is a cross-platform cloud-based IDE from Telerik that enables you to develop mobile applications for Android and iOS devices using HTML5, CSS and JavaScript.

Icenium is available in two forms: Mist and Graphite. Mist lets you code and create different versions of iPhone apps on a browser, while Icenium Graphite is a tool that runs on Windows and handles development and deployment of Android apps.

Icenium is highly popular for its Code Once and Publish Anywhere feature. It combines local coding with the powers of JavaScript frameworks such as Apache Cordova and Kendo.

8. jsFiddle: jsFiddle provides a lightweight JS editor that lets developers tweak, test, and detect online snippets and blocks of codes written in HTML, CSS or JavaScript.

jsFiddle technically is not an IDE but it is useful for tweaking and editing small “fiddles”—that is, code in the cloud--rather than developing a complete piece of code from scratch.

jsFiddle comes integrated with major libraries and documents, which can help in creating applications like web pages with static content. It also contains sophisticated repository of “public fiddles” that lets users extend or revise existing code.

jsFiddle is free to use.

9. Python Fiddle: Python Fiddle is another name in the list of cloud-based IDEs. It lets developers edit and execute code in Python language. It is widely used in the community since it not only allows developers to code but also let them post and share with others.

Unlike jsFiddle, Python Fiddle is laced with advanced features for developing, debugging and sharing Python projects quickly. It comes with a wide range of third-party extensions and is free to use.

10. ShiftEdit: ShiftEdit is a browser-based IDE and supports Google Drive, Drop Box and Amazon S3 to store files. It comes with all the basic features, like auto complete, syntax checking, live editing and revision history. It is also available as a Chrome app for opening and saving files while working on Google Chrome.

ShiftEdit supports development in Python, PHP and Perl. It does not support Java development. The environment is available in a standard version that is free for one project but is lacking in features. The premium version adds Dreamweaver import/ export, compatibility check-in/check-out and email support. The premium version can be used with unlimited projects for $5.99 per month or $59.99 per year.

11. Akshell: Akshell is a cloud-based IDE that provides a lightweight environment for creating web apps in JavaScript. It is known for providing a server-side development environment, and supports the PostgreSQL relational database. It is free to use and offers good integration with Github.

12. Neutron Drive: Based on the powerful Ace Code Editor, Neutron Drive is one of the most customizable cloud-based IDEs available. It allows developers to code in the browser using Google Drive with SCP (SFTP), FTP or FTPS. If you want to code in a private server, Neutron Drive is an excellent choice.

If you are using any of the IDEs mentioned above or want to add your own recommendation to the list, please respond in the comments section below.

Be sure to read the next Application Development article: Heroku Announces Support for the New PHP