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.

Like I just don’t want to learn I was again completely surprised by how advanced the developments are and what great quality services you can find. Not only can I get free apps for programming online in the languages I want, the ones I tested also performed better, were more user friendly and had a richer set of features than I had imagined possible.

When you’re looking to move your coding to the web, do give the following five IDE’s a bit of your time. Try them out. I’m sure that one of them will be of your liking. Do not forget to F11 for the full screen experience, that really makes it better!

Shift Edit

It blew my mind. An online PHP, Ruby, Java, HTML, CSS and JavaScript editor with built-in (S) FTP and the ability to store your files in Dropbox! It does everything you expect from an IDE like full syntax highlighting and it handles easy too. It literally took me only 1 minute to set the IDE up on the ChromebookHQ website after which I could immediately start editing my site. In design mode, or split pane or just code, you choose. Find the app here.

Codenvy

Again, awesome! Supported languages are HMTL, CSS, XML, Javascript, Node.JS, Go, Java, JSP, Ruby and PHP. 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. An extensive online IDE which makes programming on a professional level certainly possible. To help you get started their site comes with some sample projects, provides extensive user documentation such as tutorials, video demos, webinar archives, product screenshot galleries, datasheets, features and benefits tables and more. Find the app here.

Source Lair

A deceptively simple IDE which you can use to write code in C, C++, Objective-C, Fortran 90/95, Javascript, PHP, CSS, HTML, and Pascal everywhere. How far you can go with it I do not know, but for the novice C++ coder this is certainly a good solution. You can also use SourceLair for its highlighted editing capabilities for Python, Ruby, Java, HTML ( with previewing ), CSS, Javascript and PHP. Find the app here.

Cloud9

Without a doubt the IDE with the best user interface I’ve seen so far. Perhaps the main reason why I am so enthusiastic about Cloud9. Not to say that it’s lacking on other parts, definitely not. In addition it offers seamless integration with the two most popular web-based hosting services where you can find full software development projects and host Github and Bitbucket. And to sum up there’s collaboration, you can edit, run, and debug your code live and much more. Find the app here.

Codeanywhere

It’s in the name.. Codeanywhere lets you code anywhere, without the need to bring anything along with you. Just install Codeanywhere in Chrome, and all your servers, files, everything is waiting for you, even the files you left open will be open when you login again. Best of all everything is synchronized with your Codeanywhere.net account. It offers: FTP Client, PHP Editor, HTML Editor, CSS Editor, Javascript Editor, XML Editor and a bunch more. Visit their site to sign up.

Conclusion to date

These five IDE’s are all just very good tools in their own right. Yes, I prefer some over others. But that’s more due to what it is I use them for than that the others wouldn’t be as good. Overall I can say that what I summed up in my previous post is all possible. It’s that good that I myself have switched over these past couple of days from coding locally to coding online.

UPDATE: I’ve added an in-depth buying guide to help you pick the right Chromebook for your programming needs.

Up Next

I really don’t know what to check out next. I believe I’ve covered the most important things so far! Let’s go back to my mind map from post number one and see what I’ve forgotten. In the mean time let me just ask you to leave any comment if you so wish. Maybe you’ve got a good idea for my challenge to test.

Have fun Chroming and until next time!