Mobility

So you want to develop on a Chromebook...

If you're looking to make use of a Chromebook for developing, Jack Wallen has a few tools you might want to look into to make the job successful.

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You're a developer and you're interested in working with an inexpensive Chromebook when you're on the go. Depending on your needs, you might well find all the right tools to fit your bill. But what tools are available for those looking to work within a cloud-based environment? Much to your surprise, there are enough.

Before I hand over a list of possible developer tools for you to sift through, I should say this: You're not going to be compiling on a default Chromebook. There are no local IDEs that offer everything you need. That being said, let's see what there is available to intrepid Chromebook users.

Cloud-based IDEs

If you're willing to work in the cloud, there are plenty of on-line IDEs that work well with a Chromebook. Each of these offers a full-blown IDE that will allow you to develop in nearly any language you need. Some of them are free and some require a subscription.

  • Nitrous.io: Offers collaboration, one-click installation, and snapshots. Supported languages: Ruby, Node.js, Python, PHP or Go.
  • Codebox: Offers real-time collaboration, code completion, auto-run, themes, off-line mode, and more. Supported languages: PHP, Java, Ruby, Node.js, Python, Go, C/C++, and more
  • Koding: Runs on Amazon, supports Docker and runs on a full Ubuntu 14.04 environment. Supported languages: Go, Python, Node, Ruby, PHP, HTML5, and more.
  • Cloude9 IDE: Handle hundreds of thousands of files in a virtual workspace running on the Ubuntu platform. Supported languages: 40+ languages, including PHP, Ruby, Python, Go.
  • Codeanywhere: Offers code sharing, terminal access, real-time collaboration, code completion, linting, multiple cursors, Zen coding support, code beautify, all device and browser support. Languages supported: Over 72 languages including JS, PHP, HTML, PHP, Python, Ruby, Go.

Cloud-based extension IDEs

Some cloud-based IDEs offer handy Chrome extensions to make life a bit easier.

  • ShiftEdit: Offers create/edit/publish Ruby, PHP, HTML, CSS and JavaScript with full syntax highlighting, access/publish files through FTP/SFTP/Dropbox, real-time syntax debugging, revision history, and more.
  • CodeEnvy: Launch an infinite number of processes, one-click automation, customizable. Get sample projects and demos from their site. Languages supported: Ruby, Python, Go, Javascript, Django, and much more.
  • sourceLair: Very simple to use, full-featured Linux terminal, Git and Mercurical integration, Django integration, syntax highlighting, and much more. Languages supported: Python, Javascript, HTML, CSS, C, C++, Fortran, and more.

Local tools

There are times when you don't need a full-blown IDE. When you just need to write a bit of code to be used at a later date, here are a few developer-specific text editors that do an outstanding job of helping you work efficiently on your Chromebook.

Text: Work with a syntax highlighting text editor (Figure A) that automatically saves to Google Drive. Open multiple files at once, set a theme, and work without distraction.

Figure A

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Image: Jack Wallen

The Text editor in action.

Zed Code Editor: Another text editor that offers syntax highlighting, code completion, linting, multiple cursors, split-view editing and more. With this particular extension you can either work on code locally or remotely (on Github, Dropbox, or a remote server... Figure B).

Figure B

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Image: Jack Wallen

Work locally or remotely with Zed.

Drive Notepad: Works seamlessly with Google Drive and offers syntax highlighting, interactive file history viewer, find/replace, copy/paste, and much more. This is quite a simple extension to use and the floating menu (Figure C) makes for easy access to the various features.

Figure C

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Image: Jack Wallen

Drive Notepad in action with a CSS file.

If you're looking to develop on the go with your Chromebook, you don't have to miss out on a trick. Give one of these tools a try and see if it doesn't meet or exceed your needs. If none of them work, you can always install a full-blown Linux distribution on your Chromebook to take advantage of all the developer tools you'll ever need.

Also see

About Jack Wallen

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website jackwallen.com.

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