How to code anything on a Chromebook

Posted in Technicalon Nov 11, 2014

Recently I got a Chromebook, which has forced me to step up my search for a good web-based IDE. I only looked at the free-level capabilities, looking for something that would handle multiple projects and maximum flexibility. Here are my top three recommendations:

Koding provides a clean interface with a lot of flexibility. In particular, I like that they provide a full AWS virtual machine. This is particularly nice for those who want to do more than just code, but to design or experiment with an entire software stack. However, their interface is a little bit less like an IDE and more of just a terminal and editor connected to that virtual machine.

Cloud9 works more like a good IDE where you can set up a build and run tasks. But the build and run environments seem to work outside of your particular terminal environment, which makes their workflow different than it might be on other platforms.

Codeanywhere maybe be a good mix. For code editing it provides a little more than a text editor, and doesn’t want to control or own your project. You can actually keep your code external, and access it through (S)FTP, Google Drive, or Dropbox, and simply access it through code anywhere. But the still also give you a “DevBox” which is something like a VM. ¬†Additionally, Codeanywhere provides mobile apps (which I haven’t tried).

I looked at other solutions (Codio, Codebox, Codenvy, PythonAnywhere, Nitrous) but excluded most of them because they didn’t allow me full control over my software stack.

The problem with all of these is that they can’t access code that you don’t have on the Internet, for example, code in your private Intranet only. For that I found that I could quickly install the open source Codebox IDE on my private Intranet server.



December 17th, 2014 at 2:21 am

I’m fairly certain you can setup SSH with Cloud9 and therefore access code that is perhaps local.


February 26th, 2015 at 4:32 pm

Cloud9 (and others) do allow an SSH setup, and that means that their servers connect to your servers via SSH. But content on a server that is accessible only to the private local network cannot be reached by the Cloud9 servers.

It is possible that someone could make an IDE that would run as a Chrome OS application that could connect directly, but I’m not aware of any decent IDE available today that is built that way.

Of course, an alternative is to use an SSH app in Chrome OS to connect to the local server, and use a text editor (vim anyone?) on that computer to edit your files.

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