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Cloud 9 IDE 3.0 Now Runs in Ubuntu Containers via Docker

by Abel Avram on Jul 29, 2014 |

Cloud 9 has recently launched a new version of their online IDE. Usually, online developer tools are simpler than their native counterparts, some even refusing to call them IDEs. But Cloud 9 does not want to be just a rich editor, incorporating more and more features of a traditional integrated development environment.

Besides a new look and feel that lets developers customize the layout, the appearance and shortcuts, Cloud 9 comes with workspaces hosted through Docker in containers running on Ubuntu. Developers can choose from a list of already preconfigured workspaces including Node.js, HTML5, Wordpress, PHP, Python, Rails, C/C++, StrongLoop, or they can create custom ones. Also, through a terminal windows they have sudo access to the underneath container and can install any packages they desire besides the usual Apache or MySQL that come preconfigured. Also, they can tamper with configuration knobs.

Workspaces can be shared between team members, the owner of a project offering read or read/write access to various resources. Edits performed by different developers are highlighted in real time, and the editor has a file revisions history feature to determine what changed when.

One of the new features is integration with Sauce Labs’ testing platform providing over 300 browser-OS combinations for testing web applications. The desktop browsers supported are multiple versions of Firefox, Chrome, IE, Lynx, Opera and Safari, each running on different versions of Windows, OS X and/or Linux. Tests can also be carried out on Android 4.x, iPad 4.3+ or iPhone 4.3+. The browsers seem to be loaded for testing in separate containers.

The code editor (Ace) supports about 100 languages providing code completion and syntax highlighting. The debugger lets one step through the code, but also provides live variable inspection. A number of Go To commands enables jumping through the source files. Refactoring is still limited to variable renaming.

Since December last year, Cloud 9 has been running on GAE, the company claiming that the IDE is faster and more responsive due to “global reach of Google’s fiber network and its huge ecosystem of peering partners”.

Applications can be deployed on Heroku and Windows Azure Sites using menu commands or on Windows Azure Cloud Services, Google App Engine, CloudFoundry, NodeJitsu and Modulus using the command line.

Online IDEs like Cloud 9 seem to represent the future of development tools, the usual native tools integrating more and more online features, but besides benefits they can bite hard when they go down as shown in this status page. This downside will be alleviated when they will implement offline support.

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