Category

Apps

Which is the best coding text editor for ChromeOS? Caret vs. Zed

By | Apps, Reviews | No Comments

If you’re going to code on your Chromebook, you need a web-based text editor designed for programmers with features such as syntax highlighting, tabs or split-view and advanced search functionality. ChromeOS doesn’t have a good text editor built in, so I went looking for the best ChromeOS text editor for developers.

Two options quickly rose to the top – Caret and Zed. I spent a good amount of time testing each one. Let’s see how they compare.

What to look for in a coding text editor

First, it has to work in ChromeOS without installing Linux or going into Developer Mode.

Second, it has to keep working offline.

Third, it needs to display multiple files at once. Tabs or split-view depending on your preference.

It also needs to be highly customizable or hackable, it’s nice to have the ability to configure your code editor exactly the way you want.

The Contestants

Both of the best text editors share some great features. They’re both free and open source. They have themes, so you can change the color scheme easily. Both editors have multiple cursors that let you update text in multiple places at once. The config files for both editors are editable, so you can tweak the settings to your taste. Beyond that, each one has a different feature set.

Caret - coding text editor for Chromebook

Caret

Caret is based on Ace and inspired by Sublime, which you might recognize from other platforms.

Here are the features that make Caret special.

  • It can save to remote storage (indirectly, see FAQ)
  • The “go to anywhere” feature, taken from Sublime, lets you jump to any file.
  • Fuzzy search via the command palette
  • Project browsing
  • Extensible with plugins (experimental / beta)
  • The familiar vim bindings made Caret easy to work in.
  • Tabs make it easy to find the files you were working on.
  • Caret is an actively-developed open source project. The creators resolved the last pull requests just four months ago.

Cons

Caret’s lack of split screen was disappointing.

Zed - coding text editor for Chromeos

Zed

Zed is intended to be a little simpler, but it still has some killer features.

These features made Zed stand out.

  • Code completion and snippets.
  • Linting for some languages (JavaScript, CoffeeScript, JSON, Lua, CSS).
  • Split-view editing, with up to 3 screens, lets you compare and switch between files quickly.
  • Zed is smart – it persists state between sessions.
  • Zed gives you the ability to edit files on any remote server using zedrem (Zed remote editing utility).
  • Minimalist UI design
  • The autosave feature means no need to manually save your files.
  • Zed has Dropbox and Github file support

Cons

  • Zed doesn’t have tabs.
  • The project hasn’t been worked on in a while, last commit was in May 2015.

Check out my top Chromebook picks for Devs

Conclusions – Caret or Zed?

If you like Sublime, you’ll like Caret. Zed is preferred by people who like vim/emacs. Some people see Zed’s minimalist UI design as a con, but as I’m partial to vim this looks great to me.

They’re both great ChromeOS text editors for coding. Which one you choose is going to come down to personal preference. The vim-like interface and split-screen option were the killer features for me, so I’m going with Zed.

Chromebook for streaming music

Top 9 Internet Music Options for Chromebooks in 2017

By | Apps | One Comment

Enjoying music is easier now than ever before. Yet such ease has also allowed the pursuit of this enjoyment to morph into a convoluted sea of choices. Indeed, there are too many online music players out there vying for your attention. The simple act of finding one has become a painstaking, time-consuming process.

That’s why I’ve put this list together – to help you take a machete to this process so you can crank out tunes on your Chromebook on your terms. We’ve found the best ways for you to do just that.

As a side note, I know there are Chrome OS fans all around the world, so I am showing only internationally available options!

Free Internet Radio

Even though terrestrial radio is still riding high in terms of reach, it’s virtually unlistenable to serious music fans. According to experts, it’s not going to get any better. But don’t fret – free internet radio is here to rescue you from the doldrums. There are plenty of free music options out there that spin handcrafted playlists that go deeper than anything on the FM dial.

1. Free Internet Radio Websites

Cyberspace is replete with several streaming radio stations. On the surface, these stations look like they’re set up similarly to what you may find on terrestrial radio. For instance, sites like AccuRadio and InternetRadio have “channels” that are broken up by genres. But they provide you with a seemingly infinite amount of choice in the process.

For instance, InternetRadio have stations devoted to deeply niched genres such as Kpop and Reggaeton. Plus, these stations are substantially more interactive and user-friendly, something AccuRadio users can experience by being able to skip past as many undesirable songs as they’d like. They don’t exactly skimp on selection, either – InternetRadio is home to about 40,000 different stations for you to peruse.

2. Standard Broadcast Radio Stations over the Internet

Let’s say you’re not ready to give up on terrestrial radio completely. Maybe there’s a morning show you still enjoy, or there’s a special music program they air on Sunday nights that piques your interest. Chances are, that station you like has an online channel that allows you to stream.

There are also sites dedicated to helping you check out the culture of terrestrial radio in other parts of the country should you so desire. While this type of stream-based offering won’t shield you from commercials, there may be fewer ads than what you’d hear on the terrestrial version. This may translate to extra songs in your ear – including deeper cuts that may not normally get spun over the traditional airwaves.

3. SoundCloud

free online musicMusic is a social language at its core. So, it makes perfect sense that there would be music-based app built with this social aspect in mind. The German-based SoundCloud is malleable enough to go where you go, whether you’re toting the app on your smartphone or you’re running it through Chromebooks. More importantly, its interface allows fans to connect with each other like a social media platform; a connection that allows them to share songs from the personal playlists that they built up over time. Better yet, this element can even let fans connect with their favorite musicians.

4. Chrome Extensions

One of the things that makes a Chromebook cool is the bevy of Chrome extensions out there. When it comes to playing music, you are certainly not lacking in app-based options to choose from. Each of these extensions bring something a little different to the table. For instance, the AudioBox app makes it possible to converge your online music outlets like YouTube, Sound Cloud, and Dropbox into one convenient spot.

My Music Cloud, on the other hand, allows storage for 250 of your favorite songs in the cloud, including songs you’ve downloaded from iTunes. And true audiophiles may be interested in Music Plus for Google Play, which allows you to enjoy extra goodies like notifications, playback tool popups, lyrics, and more. These extensions typically require a fee to use them at full capacity, but these costs typically aren’t exorbitant.

Paid Music Subscription Services

For a lot of us, the “music genome project” that is Pandora was the first subscription service that helped us make the transition from Napster’s ill-fated downloads to streams. Nowadays, Pandora’s algorithm-based design has been usurped by a host of subscription streamers that are easy to use on Chromebooks.

The advantage of these paid music services is you get more control over individual songs and artists you want to hear.

5. Amazon Music Unlimited

The online retail behemoth got into the streaming game last year with their Amazon Music Unlimited service. Some people will be undoubtedly miffed at the fact that the cost of this service is separate from their Amazon Prime subscription, although you do get it at a discounted price. However, the fact that it offers tens of millions of songs in an intuitive, easy-to-control format and with a free trial may smooth things a bit.

6. Google Play Music

Google’s polished music streaming service is ready-made to be wherever you are. This may especially be true if you own a Samsung phone, where it will be the default music player on the device going forward. At the same time, it seems ready-made for Chromebook users. Indeed, there are a few Chrome apps and extensions you can enjoy on Chromebook that tie directly into the Google Play service (such as the Music Plus app). These widgets excel at taking your music experience to the proverbial next level.

7. Spotify

Arguably the most popular of all the streaming services, Spotify’s intuitive interface makes it easy to find your favorite artists and listen to full albums or select songs. You can also build your own custom playlist to match your mood pretty easily. This device can funnel through Chromebooks rather easily through a Chrome extension, but it’s not necessary. I’ve never had to use it to get my stations to play on my Chromebook.

Self-Stored Music Options

We all remember the way Napster was before its current incarnation. We also remember the thrill of downloading songs from the service and having them be a click away on our PC. While that iteration of Napster has gone by the wayside, the download-based spirit of the service is still with us. Better yet, it’s legal. Take that, Lars Ulrich.

8. Google Play Music

This versatile service not only lets you stream, but it also lets you store. This versatility is further bolstered by its easy-to-use presence on smartphones and Chromebooks. For those that like to bounce back between the old-school and new-school methods of digital music enjoyment, this app is right up your alley.

9. Enjoy Music Player

This handy service will do more than just play back stored music. It will also allow you to grab music from SoundCloud. Once you have the tunes on the Chromebook extension, you can do a few neat tricks with the tunes you can’t do on some other services, like fast forward within a track.

I hope you enjoyed this breakdown of the various ways you can enjoy online music through Chromebooks. The way we consume music has changed radically in the last decade, and the shift is only going to continue.

Please share if you liked the article, or drop me a line to keep the conversation going. Let me know in the comments if you have an even better favorite music service for your Chrome OS devices.

Transform Your Chromebook Into a Developer Supercomputer With Codenvy

By | Apps | One Comment

This is a guest post by Jesse Williams, an all round stellar guy and the marketing director at Codenvy. I wrote about Codenvy a long time ago in my article Five Best Online IDEs back when Codenvy was still named Cloud IDE. A lot has changed since then, and not just their name. They have grown into a formidable online cloud IDE platform, enabling developers the world over.

I figured it would be a great idea to get to know them a bit better and see what it is they have to offer us Chromebook warriors. So on my request Jesse took to his Chromebook and wrote the below article to do just that, inform us about Codenvy.

If you haven’t picked out your Chromebook yet, check out the in-depth buying guide here: Best Chromebook for Developers.

In case you might wonder if this is a paid infomercial to the better glory of my own personal gain and wallet, wonder no more, it is not. It’s just here to inform us.

So I would say: Thanks, and take it away Jesse…

For developers, Chromebooks offer an appealing mix of portability and affordability in a package that retains the keyboard and large screen that are critical for coding. In fact, many Codenvy developers use Chromebooks extensively. So when the latest Pixel was released we wondered how much Chromebook usage on our SaaS offering had grown over the preceding year – turns out it was 82%, far higher than we’d expected!

Perhaps we shouldn’t have been surprised though. Over the last year we’ve also seen many new cloud IDEs come to market – enough that at 3 years old, we’re starting to look like the elder statesman of the market! We love cloud development so we’re excited to see the attention and growth in this market.

Within the market, however, our approach has always been a little different: Codenvy is a developer workspace cloud that accelerates continuous delivery by removing the need for developers to configure their environment.

chromebook online ide codenvy opening your project

We have always focused on big, complex projects like the eXo Chat Maven multi-module project. For Chromebook users, Codenvy’s cloud developer workspaces provide the ability to code enterprise level projects without having to transition back to heavy desktops or laptops. Codenvy works with any linux language including Java, JavaScriptNode.JSPHPGo, and Android, just to name a few.

Our project typing mechanism means that developers can: Use as many machines as they need – for complex projects this is a must as a project will often rely on separate middleware, APIs, databases, etc….
Access ready-to-build and run workspaces – for example, an Angular.js project can take advantage of Grunt automatically, while a Java project comes ready to deploy to Tomcat, JBoss or Glassfish (among other application servers). Share a quarantined copy of their project with anyone through a single URL.

We’ve tried to automate most of what a developer needs because we built Codenvy to try and remove the constant configuration and updating demanded by the developer’s local machine. With Codenvy, you simply open the development environment in a browser, import a project from GitHub, BitBucket, or a zip file, and start coding. Your dependencies will automatically be downloaded, your compiler is ready to go, and debug environments are pre-installed. Of course, because we’re based on Docker you can always add in your own totally custom machine recipe through a Dockerfile – even one pulled from DockerHub.

The ability to develop on a Chromebook is only a starting point with Codenvy. Codenvy also adds value to any development team because we offer both a SaaS and on-premises version. The latter is used by many of our enterprise customers so that they can get a fully automated developer workspace cloud behind their firewall and connected to their own systems. Our Codenvy On-Prem offering even allows custom plugins to be built and deployed. Plugins are based on Eclipse Che which is an open source SDK and cloud IDE that is part of the Eclipse Foundation’s Cloud Development project.

You can check out Codenvy in the Chrome web store which boasting over 500 reviews and 4 1/2 stars.

Google Drive included in Chrome OS

By | Apps, News, Reviews | One Comment

With the much anticipated and successful launch of Google Drive,  Google’s cloud-storage service,  we as a Chromebook community have gained an important third option for file storage.

Full disclosure: I am an Amazon affiliate which means I get a small commission in case you decide to purchase through the links provided below. If you do decide to buy though ChromebookHQ, thank you very much. I really appreciate you taking the time and effort doing so.

Next to the 16 GB SSD of local storage which fills up in a heart beat, and the use of SD cards which set you back about $2.00 dollars for a 2 GB card to $30.00 or even $40.00 dollars for up to 32 GB cards, GDrive has finally given Chromebook users a storage option that is cheap and plentiful.

Announced on the Dev channel blog today the news that Google Drive has been integrated into the file manager as a part of Chrome OS. For your non Chrome OS devices Google has downloadable software that will link Drive to the respective file systems, much like we’re used to with Dropbox, allowing for files to sync. With this latest update to the operating system, essentially adding a full hard drive, synced files storage is becoming part of Chrome OS itself. Read More

Five Best Online IDE’s – Making the switch to a Chromebook

By | Apps, Making the Switch | 58 Comments

Having the option to program online is not just essential in my ‘Making the switch to a Chromebook’ series of articles I’m writing simulating the Chromebook experience in a Chrome Browser. It’s equally essential to the entire premise that a Chromebook or cloud computing device has any validity in the foreseeable future, as the need for Google Docs is. It can’t do without.

As a blogger you mostly depend on your own skills to maintain your blog, maybe even to build it. At the very least you’ll want to tweak the code every now and again to keep your blog afloat. And if you’re anything like me you’ll do most of your writing and quick code editing away from your home office and trusted setup. In other words, if we’re gonna buy a Chromebook it’s going to be the machine doing most of the work, it should be able to handle that.

There are quite a lot of programming languages out there, so I will be specific in what I seek. I need to be able to work on my website’s CSS and create, edit and store PHP, C++ and maybe HTML5 files online. It would be nice if I could find some kind of sandbox or service that offers that option where you can trial run your code. Preferably in the same IDE (integrated development environment), and for free.
Read More

Three Best Online Image Editors – Making the switch to a Chromebook

By | Apps, Making the Switch, Reviews | 17 Comments

A couple of years ago I could only find three online image editors that I deemed good enough to review for use on my Chromebook.

Today, one of three no longer exists and the other (Photoshop Express) was pulled off the market by Adobe. Obviously it’s time for a new review and my, my what a difference a couple of years makes.

Now there are dozens of online photo editing and layout web apps to choose from. If you weren’t convinced before that the world is moving away from installed apps toward everything cloud-based, this might change your mind.

The new apps have a wide range of capabilities – all the way from Photoshop-like completeness to toy apps for adding stickers to your selfies. A new class of online image editor has also come about. There are now several choices for designing blog covers and social images, complete with free stock photos.

Picking an Image Editor for Chrome

So, how did I go about researching and picking my favorites? Here are the questions that I wanted answered for my review.

  • Does the editor have a similar layout to Photoshop–the most popular and familiar editor of them all.
  • Can it retouch the millions of selfies that get posted every day including blemish removal, airbrush and rubber stamp?
  • Is it able to easily add text to images in order to make cover images and does it include banners or shapes? Bonus points if the editor includes ready-to-go stock images.
  • Can the app be used offline?
  • Does it handle RAW files? (I only found one that could, but there’s an online RAW file converter and viewer: https://raw.pics.io/.)

Online Image Editors for Chrome

If you’re looking for really basic cropping and resizing, keep it simple and use the native tool.

Photoshop Alternatives for Chrome

First let’s look at the real online Photoshop competitors. These powerful tools give photographers granular control of the photo editing process.

  1. Sumo Paint, of all the options I found, looks and acts the most like Photoshop. It has the same toolbar. You can add text. You can have more than one image open at a time. Now, all the tools are manual, so you need to know what you’re doing. You won’t find pushbuttons to fix specific problems with your image. But if you’re used to Photoshop, then this will feel very comfortable.
  2. screenshot of polarr online image editorPolarr runs offline in Chrome, which makes it perfect for taking with you on your Chromebook. Polarr has a more modern looking interface, but underneath are all the familiar controls for adjusting images. A tutorial greets you on launch. The Guide shows you what each of the controls do. One interesting feature is the history that lets you roll back any change, rather than just the last change. It’s built for the web, too. You can export directly to Facebook, Dropbox, or Google Drive. There are a decent number of filters for free, and there are more available for pay. One of the features I liked best was the before/after side-by-side view. I couldn’t find any text or other overlay tools for making designs. Polarr’s killer feature was that it was the only one that could open my ORF Olympus RAW file.

Hybrid Tools

Several options, some new and some that have been around for years, combine photo editing capabilities with design elements. These tools are a compromise between granular control and automatic tools. They also have design and sharing elements built for social media image creation.

  1. screenshot of fotor online photo editorFotor, like Polarr, has modern controls, but without the tutorial, it takes a bit longer to explore the options. Fotor runs online, and the free version is ad supported. Some good options are available free, without logging in, like filters and frames. Fotor is a hybrid tool that has both image editing and design options. It even has stickers. You can save your results locally or share directly to social. This product does a lot of things but is not specialized for any one purpose.
  2. PicMonkeyscreenshot of picmonkey online image editor tools is very similar to Fotor. It has photo effects, touch up, collage, and designs with text that you can share directly to social. Also like Fotor, some features are locked in the free version. The big differentiator for PicMonkey is the approachability of the controls. This is an all-purpose image editor and design tool for people who don’t have Photoshop experience.
  3. screenshot of ipiccy image editor for chromeiPiccy has been around since my last review of online photo editors. Back then, it didn’t give me the smooth and professional results I hoped for, and it had a child like feel to it. It’s basically the same now, but I didn’t throw it out because it has special effects that will appeal to people who work mostly on portraits. Along with its retouching tools, iPiccy has many visual effects like pencil sketch, and posterize (for reducing images to 2 or more colors for projects).
  4. screenshot of pixlr photo editor for chromePixlr web app takes the image editing capabilities of Photoshop and simplifies them. The big buttons makes it seem more approachable, and you don’t need as much knowledge to get started. It lets you do image retouching, design and collage. Pixlr has a good selection of basic adjustments, like crop, rotate, and straighten, plus image fixing and alteration options that are not obvious to the novice, like splash and heal. There are a few canned photo effects. You can add type to your image with 7 fonts. One weakness was the image size is limited to 8MB.

Design apps

While searching for Photoshop alternatives for Chrome, I came across a new class of online image editing apps specifically for creating designs. The focus is less on image editing and more on adding effects to stock photos and then putting text on them. If you want to create blog covers or social images, design apps are easier to use than the image editors above.

  1. screenshot of canva online design appCanva, as you can see from the screenshot, has many specialty designs (e.g. posters, business cards), not just social. Other than basics like cropping, Canva doesn’t do image editing. Canva offers a good choice of filters and fonts. It accepts both jpg and png images, or you can choose from their background photo options. It’s easy to find images by searching, and they are cheap, but they do cost $1. The downsides are that you have to create a login to get started, and it teases you with features that cost money. Canva is a good option for someone who needs to design a wide variety of formats and doesn’t have access to stock photography.
  2. screenshot of snappa.io online design appSnappa.io took a different approach with their freemium model. You don’t have to worry about the font you want costing money, but you only get 5 images a month. Like Canva, it requires login. The backgrounds are free though. Snappa has various sizes to get you started, and you can choose from social and blogging or ad templates. It has an excellent variety of fonts. Snappa’s other strong point is its video tutorials.

Conclusion to date

Not all tools that I evaluated made the list.The Photoshop alternatives are best at helping you edit photographs with tight control of every aspect of the process. The hybrid tools are better for those who don’t have Photoshop experience but need a combination of image editing and design creation. These tools are a compromise, and sometimes the more they try to do, the less well they do it. Finally, the design apps give you less control over the photo editing but add highly specialized features that are perfect for the amateur designer (or blog writer on a budget).

The Top 3 Image Editors

Last time, it was easy to pick only three because there were only a few options. Now there are a number of great choices that will work for most people.

Sumo Paint still does the closest rendition of the Photoshop layout. But, if you need to edit RAW files, you’ll have to go with Polarr. It’s also the best choice if you work offline a lot.

For portrait retouching, give PicMonkey a try first, and if you don’t like that, iPiccy might work better for you.

If you mainly need to make covers or social images, don’t mess with the hybrid apps. Instead go straight to either Canva or Snappa which are both great design apps. I couldn’t choose because it really depends on your situation. Personally I would go with Snappa because I only need to make a few images a month, and I can do that for free. If I had to do more, I would go with Canva because of the built-in stock photo purchasing.

What is your favorite online photo editor and why? Please share with us below.

Happy editing, and until next time,
Kain

 

Productivity Tools – Making the Switch to a Chromebook

By | Apps, Making the Switch | 9 Comments

In my attempt to simulate a Chromebook experience by doing everything in the Chrome browser I’ve learned a lot already. I’ve found amazing ways to enjoy music anywhere and everywhere and learned about great, high quality documentaries that moved me to my core. It’s a great ride so far, adding to the promise of a Chromebook.

This time we’re going a more practical route and talk about the basic productivity tools I’ve come to use over the past few weeks. There are a lot of tools and productivity sites out there, but only few of ‘m apply to us all on a daily basis. However, with tips and tools from lifehacker book, David Allen’s Getting Things Done methodology and some good use of the Web we can gain some serious ground in personal efficiency and location independent working.

I myself work with, what I jokingly call my holy quartet: Google Docs, Dropbox, Evernote and Gmail. Because these are all web-based services I have these four always close at hand. Google Docs to create and edit documents, Dropbox for safely storing all of my files online, Evernote for making quick notes and Gmail, you guessed it, for email. Read More

TV and Documentaries in the Cloud – Making the Switch to a Chromebook

By | Apps, Making the Switch | 5 Comments

Since I started writing the Making the switch to a Chromebook series, only two articles ago, I rolled from one amazing moment into the next. It’s really great to get introduced to this whole world of wonders the internet turns out to be. And yes, that did grow completely separate from the Chromebook and is also there for the avid IE user, for example. But, it does come to it’s complete fruition, it seems, when using a cloud computing device.

In this post I want to share with you what I’ve learned so far. What I’ll be talking about is just a selection of what I ran into, and liked, when testing out the wole watching stuff online thing. I do want to encourage you to go onto the Google and do some searching yourself though, there’s really a lot out there.

Just as in choosing a suitable replacement for my local music player with a cloud version, I drew up a simple wishlist. This time in advance. However, I did chuck that list eventually for the simple reason that my questions brought to light that I was hopelessly outdated and that they didn’t really apply.
Read More

Music in the Cloud – Making the switch to a Chromebook

By | Apps, Making the Switch | 3 Comments

WANT TO SEE THE LATEST ONLINE MUSIC PLAYERS FOR CHROMEBOOKS? There’s an updated article here.

 

In the first post on making the switch to a Chromebook I spoke of my desire to first find out if it’ll all works. It’s not nothing to go from doing everything local on your pc or laptop using our trusted applications to doing everything online using nothing but apps. Is there an app for everything? And does that mean added costs, or are those free? Time to find out.

Today I want to take a look at what the deal is with music, music in the cloud to be exact. If you’re anything like me you’ll probably have an extensive music collection containing hundreds of albums and thousands of songs which you don’t want to give up on. Many of these I bought years ago on CD and imported them later into iTunes. I really don’t want to lose them, and there’s no way I’m gonna pay for ‘m again moving into the cloud.

The search for an online equivalent to my own music collection was worth it however. Not only is it possible to find virtually any song or artist you’ll ever want to listen to, there are good services letting you listen to them for free!
Read More