Is It Time to Get Rid of the Desktop IDE?
Eclipse set the development world abuzz in October 2012 with the release of its browser-based integrated development environment (IDE) Orion; Cloud9 and others have already been in the space for a few years now. This new release by Eclipse marks a significant step toward moving the development environment out of the desktop.
With the big push to move computing to the cloud, is it time to get rid of the desktop IDE?
While the first version of Orion was recently released, other products mostly exist in niche environments and are not yet ready for primetime. Significantly, any support for popular languages like Java and C# is minimal. So, you won’t be able to throw your desktop IDE out the window, yet.
A big factor affecting the browser-based IDE is the overall shift in user experience, which still lacks enriched keyboard shortcuts, drag-and-drop support, and syntax highlighting for major languages. “Not one of the editors I tried is perfect, or feels completely native. They stretch the limits of your browser and CPU, so in older machines sometimes they lag a bit,” says Herman Garcia on his blog where he reviews leading browser-based IDEs, including a version of Eclipse Orion.
Manufacturers are making ever more powerful machines and browsers, but the corporate world lags in software upgrades. In August 2012, Windows XP still had a worldwide market share of almost 42 percent, according to this post, although Microsoft wants you to move to Windows 8.
Additionally, you can’t ignore the significant Internet slowdown during peak times when you are working from home. Internet response time is a nonissue at work because most corporate setups are backed by a fast connection. Home networks, on the other hand, are not as robust. Any developer will agree that there is little else so uniquely frustrating as a slow IDE.
The cloud providers would like to convince you that everything is secure. However, the security breach at Dropbox last July—as well as the plethora of other cloud breaches throughout the year—prove that the providers’ claims about security are far from reality. Losing data is bad; losing your code and potentially the intellectual property could equal in severity or even be worse.
So, what does this all mean? Browser-based IDEs are moving in the right direction but they are not ready for mainstream showdown. The desktop IDEs are here to stay for the foreseeable future. As they say, don’t throw the baby with the bath water.