IDE’s come from a time in which the majority of what we programmed were monolithic desktop applications.
But that’s not the reality anymore for many of us.
As web developers we now work on distributed systems consisting of many different microservices.
Let me give you an example: Not long ago we were all happy to listen to our music with Windows Media Player, a nice and simple desktop application that could probably build and run in any C-IDE without many problems.
Today many people use Spotify or similar streaming services to not only listen to music but also share and interact with the artists.
I don’t even want to imagine the hassle of setting up a development version of such a big software system.
A typical workflow of mine
Here is an example of the Codesphere co-founder Jonas. It is about setting up a new project from one of his friend. Spoiler: It’s not a great experience.
Because I recently got a new development machine I set up my keymap, installed a couple plugins, pulled out my split keyboard and I was able to do my code changes at a reasonable speed (ignoring the occasional wrong import suggestion I always seem to get).
Now the time comes to test my changes.
I begin with installing the project dependencies and at this point my hands begin to sweat as the CPU fan of my modern 2k€ laptop begins to spin at its maximum rate.
The IDE has started indexing a couple million of files and is burning away my battery at light speed. After a couple of minutes my computer becomes responsive again and I try to start the build and run script. But it’s not working!
It looks like some of the linux commands from my colleague don’t work on my windows computer. Also, I accidentally change the line endings from LF to CRLF on the files I modified, which will probably cause a headache later on when I try to deploy this to the production linux infrastructure.
Finally I get some of the microservices I want to test running. They are complaining about wrong credentials and about being blocked by the Azure firewall.
So I whitelist my daily changing IP address and gather the development secrets from the companies file share.
Even now: one of the services is still not fully healthy.
I ask my friend for help… He tells me that that particular service manages cluster resources and can only be run in a kubernetes environment and that I would have to install it if I wanted to debug that.
At this point my morning is over and I leave the desk to get a second coffee and ask myself:
‘Integration’ is a significant part of I(ntegrated) D(evelopment) E(nvironments) — so why are IDEs disconnected from our workflows today?
Let’s fix this
As web developers we always try to port as many desktop apps as possible to the browser.
After all, the browser seems to have solved the problem of software distribution allowing users to work at any place and any time.
Anywhere: Imagine being able to code anywhere, even on your Android tablet without having your lap burned from the CPU quickly burning away your battery.
Anytime: New collaborators could simply click a link and start coding right away. No individual setup process for the specific hardware.
There are more advantages to think of like real-time collaboration, having your settings synced everywhere and simplifying the integration of cloud services just to name a few.
At Codesphere we make this vision a reality.
Do you know the limitations and painpoints Jonas is describing in his article? Let us know! If you enjoyed reading this article, feel free to share it and follow us!
Top comments (89)
Yeah but that's a completely different discussion, not everyone is using C#, a lot of people nowadays use JS both frontend and backend, whether by choice or imposed on them ... the fact that a program can be faster when you develop it in C#, or C, or Rust, or assembly, isn't relevant in the multitude of cases where you're not even free to choose your programming language.
And that's the exact issue. JS is used too much, even for the things where other solution would be more suitable.
I don't know if it's an issue, if it works it works ... VSCode is programmed in JS and I hear nobody complain about it, even though it might be a tiny bit faster or more efficient if it was coded in C/C++.
It's not that much of an issue, but once you have multiple Electron applications opened it can become a problem. Yes, we have much more memory available now but I prefer not to fill it up.
Yeah that's true, Electron apps are memory hogs ... I have mostly one or two open, and with 16 GB RAM it's not an issue. But when I have a couple dozen Chrome tabs open as well then at some point I can see memory filling up and my computer getting noticeably hot. Oh well :-)
IDEA consumes much more memory than VSCode
IDEA is full-fledged IDE, VS Code isn't.
Oh I know, Java based IDEs like Eclipse, Netbeans, Jetbrains/IDEA/IntelliJ are such memory and CPU hungry beasts ... it felt like a huge relief when I dumped my Jetbrains IDE for VSCode, it's so much more lightweight.
Only when you're doing actual Java development does it make sense to use a Java based IDE.
I moved from VS Code to WebStorm because I don't have to worry about setup and it has many features which I find very useful for which I would need to add bunch of extensions and spend whole day configuring. Also, it showed as much better solution for bigger projects, especially for refactoring. I don't mind spending a bit more money for good software.
Of course, there are some cool things in IDEA (I've been using it for 8+ years, so I know about it), but for example "full-fledged" IDE still doesn't support remote development (youtrack.jetbrains.com/issue/IDEA-...) and I can't event open different projects in the same window (switching between windows is very annoying). I'm not trying to say now, that one is better than the other, I'm saying that both have its own pros and cons, it's not fair to say that one is full-fledged and another one isn't only because it doesn't support features you need.
It is, because VS Code is not an IDE. Visual Studio is an IDE and IDEA is IDE, but VS Code is code editor. I'm not saying it's a bad thing, but there is a difference between those two. I'm yet to see an IDE which can debug C# like VS.
What is the different between code editor and IDE? "catching unused promises"?
Have you ever used Visual Studio?
No, but I've used IDEA. You claim IDEA is an IDE and VSCode is not, and I'm trying to understand what's there so special that categorizes them like that
Why isn't? Features like jump to definition, import suggestions, and so on are supported by LSP. Git, terminal, workspaces, extensions, what is missing?
Nothing is missing ... I say VSCode is an IDE :-) but as lightweight as an "editor"
WebStorm provides better code inspection, refactoring, debugging and CVS functionalities by default (for example, catching unused promises), connection with Jira and many other stuff. It's diff tool is one of the best I've ever seen. Not to mention that all of this is available in IntelliJ IDEA Ultimate so I can use same IDE for both Java and front-end development out of the box.
Yes, the git diff is quite good, I remember that, but most of the other features that you mention, well I just didn't use or need them. But I won't argue, I guess it just depends on your requirements and personal preferences.
What I like about VSCode is that it's really lightweight, and the utter simplicity of "project management" with VSCode - there just aren't any projects! You can
cdto a directory somewhere in a terminal and type the command
code .and then you just edit, in VSCode, right what's there ... sweet :-)
I guess the philosophy and the workflow of VSCode just suits me, but well just use what works for you, to each their own.
Sure, I agree :)
It was the answer on Nikola's comment
haha I understand, it gets confusing :-) and with this whole discussion I think that a number of distinct and unrelated issues are being mixed up, but anyway
First of all, I think that the
node.jsdependency and indexing problem is a totally different discussion. I will comment instead on the debugging and managing microservices problem.
Reading some of the comments and being familiar with the problem (corporate secret: blame the frontend guy if they can't run your super-duper microservice cluster locally!) I think the problem is that AWS, Google Cloud, Azure and the rest don't provide integrated solutions. So either they create an end-to-end solution with the IDE shipped or it won't happen. But there are privacy, security and vendor lock-in concerns.
There are still people in 2021 who think you should handcraft every
.yamlfile for your
kubernetescluster - because "control". People still want an editor that is not provided by big, evil corporation and expect that it will magically work with big, evil corporation's infrastructure. And everyone is figuring out their very own custom solution for managing services, testing them and hoping they can roll back if shit hits the fan.
So I think step number one is not an IDE, but standardizing and completely hiding the variability of the infrastructure. Setup should be as easy as to select with a checkbox if you need a dev, a stage or a production cluster. You press the button and then it creates everything necessary on your local machine to interact with the dev and stage environments. And then the debugging/managing functionality of an IDE will be just pretty UI over existing services. Can't really see without total vendor lock-in.
Agree, we aim to build exactly what you describe.
With the difference that we build the full workflow first, with these steps:
It's not a vendor lock in because you can just download all the config and deploy it elsewhere (or change and we deploy it for you).
Think of it as a cloud provider that generates your setup where the UI is an IDE :)
That sounds great! Good luck with that!
Maintaining production replicas is a joyless task that takes too much time away from actual coding.
Thank you, that is the idea :)
Thanks for this valuable and educated view. The IDE for us at Codesphere is 'just' a front end. Figuring out all the very own custom solutions plenty of resources and productivity. This is unnecessary in 2021.
Cloud IDEs/editors sound like the solution ... your whole dev setup in the cloud, and you use just a browser to access it - like your laptop is now just a dumb console, as in the good ol' mainframe days - no need for an expensive or powerful desktop or laptop anymore ... Apple and Microsoft won't like it :-)
Tell me one person who actually enjoys developing on an old PC other than because of nostalgia. None. Cloud IDEs may seem a solution for a novice user who doesn't want or doesn't know how to install a proper IDE. Even these JAVA-based IDEs (i.e: Jetbrains' ones) are way better performant than browser-based IDEs. Not an Universal solution.
Not yet a universal solution ... I can see the potential advantages, but this still needs maturing, I don't see myself tossing my powerful workstation out of the window anytime soon. But who knows, never say never, I think this will take time.
It will start with smaller projects and especially with new projects. But sooner or later the arguments for the cloud are just too compelling.
Spot on ... people won't start out by putting their mission critical stuff in the cloud - they will first try it out with smaller projects, then when they gain confidence they'll commit to it for their bigger projects ... step by step.
Generally I would not disagree to certain parts of your comment. But a) a proper IDE can be cloud-based - why not? And b) this is all not about the IDE only. Having IDE and cloud services connected boosts the productivity of every developer as it leverages the full scale of technology and computing power at any time.
Personally, I much prefer running on my local file system
Sure. Anyone should be able to decide and there will be more and more advantages of a non-local set up.
This. As much as a cloud based IDE solves problems, it introduces ones.
Your application was architected poorly (the story above) and your experience will suck.
But here I sit, on two good development machines. They can handle a good workload. I don't want browser funkiness to interfere with development. Stackblitz for example is fine for a quick POC, so is JS Fiddle.
But to me, neither is as good as a daily driver as VS.
I've been using JetBrains for years and just tried VS Code in cloud, don't see any problems so far. It feels much better honestly, without those endless indexations and other problems.
Yeah, you are right! Coding in the cloud and adding intelligence between IDE and cloud services is the future. I am working on exactly that with Codesphere. Have you signed up for Codesphere? Would be great to see you there and have your feedback.
I checked your website, very nice, but it's a bit light on details - for instance:
how flexible will it be - will it be open and extendable, will there be a Linux terminal, Docker ... will it be possible to install "anything" or will it be more like a walled garden concept?
how is this different from e.g. GitHub Codespaces?
More questions than answers, is there more information you can point me at?
Then when using an online or cloud version of it (with Github Codespaces or equivalent) you'd be completely in the cloud with a browser based IDE. I believe this will be completely feasible, and even enjoyable, in the near future.
(oh, and apart from VSCode, other mainstream IDEs like Eclipse or Jetbrains aren't even coded in C/C++, they're developed in Java)
Closes eyes and pinches bridge of nose.
And yes, I'm aware that Electron is using HTML and CSS for its styling. Once again — files being interpreted. There are other non-Electron, non-JS GUI toolkits that leverage CSS.
Electron packs a browser which is not much different to your local chrome + it runs a node process.
With a cloud IDE, you can run expensive tasks on many servers.
That said, Codesphere's goal is not to replace your IDE, its meant to replace your cloud provider.
We aim to do this in the long run with lower prices, more automation, more privacy and no setup.
The UI is an IDE because..uhm..yeah we liked the idea :)
Uhm....server round trip time? Unless it loads entirely locally, and then you have the initial download time more or less each time.
Network changes everything.
Well yes okay, the cloud development idea as such assumes that your connection is fast enough, otherwise the whole concept falls flat, so that's a big "if" ... downloading the source code would be one time and then being cached, I suppose.
Except it isn't just the source going over network. It's the data, the response times for operations, etc.
And it isn't just a matter of if your net is fast enough to WORK. It becomes a limiting factor in most cases: the responsiveness of many operations will be limited by network speed, not just local storage IO speed.
Ergo "this is apples to oranges".
Yeah maybe, there's a lot to be said about all this, but this wasn't the original comment of this thread ... :-)
The original comment said that the performance of a desktop application developed in C/C++ would always be superior over a browser based application. To which I responded that VSCode is in fact a browser/JS based app (and some other IDEs are developed in Java rather than C/C++).
So we're having a different discussion now than the original one.
I share your appreciation of performance and reliability.
Computation heavy task like compiling, code-analysis, and search indexing have to be done with a compiled language.
But that's nothing speaking against cloud IDEs.
Moving this computation to the cloud can even be an advantage because you can share dependencies and build artefacts between contributors and just work stronger computers in general.
For the frontend however, an IDE is just a fancy text editor.
I don't see why that particular part couldn't run in the browser.
The major web IDEs (VScode, Atom, WebStorm) are doing that already, running on either Node or Java VMs.
Server costs are cheaper than DEV time cost most of the time. Also efficiency comes late in the game, when you have a huge established clientele. And then you can also choose to rewrite only the ones that would really-really benefit from those languages.
We chose it, not because it is our favorite language, but because it is highly adopted while the tooling is (because it is so new) a pain in the ass.
We are investigating support for other languages like Java, PHP, Deno, and Go which may come in the summer.
Personally, I see languages really as tools and I don't understand all the religion around some of them.
Use the right tool for the job, and if the job is being highly productive in a browser + microservice environment, TypeScript feels very reasonable (e.g. same language in frontend and backend, OOP, async...).
PS: We will be cheaper than your avg. cloud provider as well.
What about the privacy? I don’t think companies would like to share it’s source code.
Security is always an important topic, especially with IaaS.
Not only can the code get compromised but also your secret keys, customer data, etc..
Encryption everywhere seems to the solution to me.
In practice that means using TLS for network traffic, and various tools to encrypt passwords, code and user data.
You can do static code analysis to prevent data leaks during runtime.
To be honest, those are all good practices even if you work with an inhouse datacenter.
But I know that it can be a hazzle setting all this up yourself, especially the TLS certificates.
Codesphere will manage all of that for you out of the box when you stick to certain conventions.
Very good question. Source code must stay secure and that's the case in the pods. But there for sure will be limitations for some companies.
Most people already store their code in the cloud (Github, Gitlab, Bitbucket) ... there's not anything new here really.
Right you are! Only very few companies with super sensitive data might have limitations (maybe even only by law) to stay away from the cloud...
We are leagues away from the level of customization that desktop editors offers : I have dozens of Atom packages and full custom config files. I don't see that happening to a cloud based editors anytime soon.
And cloud editors are slooooowwwww… I'd love to love glitch, codesandbox etc. but when you start opening more than a couple files, performances melt. Maybe yours is different… maybe not :p
Now that your dev environment runs in the cloud is another story, especially when you have a big app. An excellent article on subject can be found here :
Why Eventbrite runs a 700 node Kube cluster just for development
Ethan J. Jackson ・ Aug 27 '20 ・ 6 min read
We are already way faster than glitch, gitpod, and codesandbox (lol), mainly because we designed specifically for a cloud env. Codesphere will hardly run on your desktop (though you can mount a fs and use your local IDE's).
It is not meant to replace your local environment but we aim to extend it with a cloud provider which is REALLY build for developers and the UI is a dedicated IDE which you might not have to leave.
I agree that the article is flawed, but not for the reasons that you mention ... the article is flawed because it claims that there is a problem with IDEs, and then it goes on to describe a problem with the deployment of the app and its services on a local development workstation, so the hassle of setting up and maintaining a local test/dev environment - THAT is the problem at hand ... so, clearly, and obviously, this is not a problem with the IDE as such, therefore the title of the article is a misnomer IMO.
So the issue is not one of "IDEs being stuck in the past" or whatever nonsense - the problem is with the burden of setting up and maintaining a test/development environment on your "local" machine - and the solution (supposedly) is to move that environment into the cloud (which at the same time also makes your dev environment portable across machines, if for instance you want to access your stuff "on the go").
So that is the problem to be solved (if we assume it is a problem) ... "cloud" would be one answer to that, Docker and so on are other solutions. The question where your IDE runs and what it looks like, whether it's browser based, or a desktop app, or whatever, is really inconsequential, as long as you have a mechanism to get at your "stuff" (source code and running app) in the "cloud" or in "Docker", or in whatever environment it runs.
At Codesphere you can get an early access and a free VM when you sign up on the website! ❤️
Well, isn't that the best of both worlds then, and a smart strategy? Use native code for stuff where it matters (the language servers), and JS where it's more than adequate (the UI) ... it's the end result that counts, and we can't complain there about VSCode.
Maybe to some degree. I was responding to the "it's a glorified browser app" assertion I hear all the time. Electron is only superficially similar due to sharing some components of the webkit.
What complicates that is how well the code is written in terms of performance. Badly written C++ will still be slower than well-written Python (specifically CPython) purely because of the principles of algorithmic efficiency.
VSCode is faster than some C++-based IDEs for that reason, not because Electron is particularly prone to being greased lightning.
What I see (and what you concede) is that the speed of VSCode is more than adequate in the great majority of cases. But, I think the whole premise of this article that there is an "IDE problem" is flawed ... I've elaborated that in another comment, so I'm not gonna repeat that here. I think that discussion is more interesting than whether your IDE has to be coded in JS with Electron or in Java, or in C/C++, or in Rust, or in ... :-)
This was just a personal experience and there are definitly ways to work efficiently on desktops.
For example, I remember having a good time with Java and IntelliJ.
But once I switched through a couple of projects with ~10 microservices and cutting edge technology it took me a long time to set everything up again and again.
Most of the team just settled for a mediocre workflow instead of doing the work of maximizing the benefit from every feature or tool available.
We would have been happy to be able to just click a link and start coding with all the available features.
Addressing your other concerns:
To everyone using Jetbrains IDEs. Try switching from Jetbrains bundled Java runtime (JBR) to OpenJDK. It is lightning fast.
Sounds like a problem of trying to use windows as you dev environment. Or you can use docker for you dev environments. I hate cloud IDEs. Every one that I've used has been mediocre and more trouble to work around the trouble of setting up a cloud workspace than it's worth.
Can imagine what you experienced. Which cloud IDE was the worst you tried and why?
Never told you to throw it out :) And sorry I did not say that clear enough, I was talking about production code.
It does not front any cloud, it is running on its own data center in germany, soon in other parts of the world as well.
I would love to hear your feed back If you can spend some minutes when we launch :)
I just added a comment elsewhere (if you can find it) explaining that in my opinion the premise of the article is flawed, and that a large part of the comments and discussion are highly confused and are mixing up a number of things ... the problem isn't with IDEs at all, the problem is about setting up and maintaining your development environment/runtimes. Whether the IDE runs in a browser or on the desktop or somewhere else is totally irrelevant!
haha "Teflon undies" I like it :-)