A while ago I wrote about what an IDE really is. Since then, we've been thinking hard and working even harder to realise that dream of a real IDE in the browser, and one that can go head to head with any desktop IDE. This is not without its challenges, so I wanted to write a little about how we are tackling these challenges head on, and to reveal a little more about something BIG that we announced last week.
From the Desktop...
Lets start by talking a little bit about the current state of the IDE landscape, which, to be honest is pretty bleak. On the desktop, the space is dominated by the likes of Adobe's Dreamweaver and the open source Eclipse IDE.
Dreamweaver is traditionally the kind of tool that new, fresh faced developers start with. I remember it was the IDE that I used to build my very first website back in 1998, and I also remember the god-awful and monstrous HTML markup it produced when publishing or exporting your site.
Dreamweaver has moved on greatly since then (it has had to) and now outputs shiny clean markup. It's support for web standards has also greatly improved.
Dreamweaver has a large community around it, which has helped to create its large library of widgets, making it easy to add commonly used components into your pages.
Eclipse is an altogether different beast, which is due largely to it being an open source project. This means it has a huge community of users and developers building in and on it. Whatever you are building, you can be sure that there is an Eclipse plugin that will help you out with your task.
But Eclipse can be very heavy at times, and is certainly not very friendly for those of you who are new to the IDE.
The biggest advantage to Eclipse and almost all IDE's lies in its extensibility. The ability for any developer to extend and customise his/her tools is extremely powerful and very exciting.
To the Browser...
The desktop will always be with us, but like any platform, it has its limitations and its traditions. All of which can be very hard to counter. The desktop is also much slower to react to the changing pace of development and technology. The browser however, is an open door, and moves extremely fast when it comes to embracing the latest and greatest, which means it is now possible to emulate the power of the desktop right within your browser.
The browser is deeply embedded into our digital lives and is the most used desktop application by far. So it stands to reason that we are seeing more and more desktop applications now moving into the browser.
The IDE is no exception. However, no-one has yet managed to replicate the good parts of the desktop IDE's in the browser. Well... that is until now.
It's a Big Task, but someone has to do it!
We're building an IDE that any type of developer will love to use on a day-to-day basis. A code editor that has all the functionality of the best desktop editors, including code-completion, split-panes and live preview. A development environment that can compete with the best desktop IDE's, and support the basics, along with the most advanced features, such as source control, debugging, compilation/building, and deployment.
Then we're adding a layer of convenience on top of all this, that will use the expertise that we have built into the current version of AC, empowering novices and the less technical of you to build web and mobile apps extremely fast. Including a widget library that you can use with a simple and drag and drop, and a pixel perfect layout manager to allow you to design your app in an extremely easy way.
And we are making sure that you can work the way you want to work, which means building an IDE that is extendable and flexible.
If any of this has your juices flowing, then we want you to join in the fun. Something big is coming...