Mice or Raccoons II

Cote over at RedMonk took up the gauntlet I threw down in my blog and started to riff on the idea of an AJAX-based IDE. After arguing for AJAX, I'll now argue against it. You see, most developers already have an IDE and they're used to having all those features nearby; stripping features out to build an AJAX-based IDE wouldn't help them at all. And if you think about the last shrink-wrapped applications you probably bought, they were probably content generation applications like Photoshop or some video editing software -- software that really does get advantage out of using local resources like a graphics accelerator or local hard drive (which an IDE does, too).

Yet the idea sticks with me that for the "new breed" of application, a "new breed" of IDE seems required.

Comments (6)

  1. Kurtiss Hare says:

    Hi John,

    I think the best bet as far as a "live" IDE goes would be to beef up the components that are missing in Desktop IDEs, but would be enhanced by net connectivity.  In essence, make it perpendicularly useful.  Once that’s been done, start to chip away at the Desktop dimension.  A couple ideas that come to mind:

    . automatic integration with sourceforge, etc.

    . customizable IDE views for projects

    . transparent urls for one-click-away source code editing

    . baked in realtime or shifted collaboration for project contributors

    . dynamic syntax support for language changes and new languages, as they happen

    . etc, etc.

    Let me know when you’re ready for me to start coding! 😉

  2. what – only cote’s blog gets a mention… 😉

  3. Cote' says:

    That’s right. A Web 2.0 IDE whose goal was to replicate desktop IDE’s would fail quickly. One that tried to be something new and different, taking advantage of what a web app had to offer, would have a chance of succeding.

    The analog du jour is Writely to MS-Word. Writely is just a sub-set or Word, and yet Writely is compelling. <a href="http://www.annezelenka.com/2006/03/entrepreneurial-economics-and-global.html">Anne has some more thinking along these lines as well</a>.

  4. johnmont says:

    I love you, but didn’t get a trackback from you and I did from Cote. 😉

  5. johnmont says:

    I think we all agree that it’s not a VS-like IDE. I’m also thinking that a big part of Tuscany is actually making VS "better when online" or "enhanced by net connectivity" the way Kurtiss mentioned.

    But what specific problem does it solve and what specific features does it offer? Integration with online code repositories like Sourceforge and/or GotDotNet makes a lot of sense. Being able to link to a source file to edit it does also (though I should be able to to do that with a VSIP plugin as well).

    What else?

  6. Xepol says:

    IDE means integrated development environment.  Webbrowsers are being more and more sandboxed.

    An AJAX based development environment would not be able to build packages onto your system (you could probably download them…), nor would it be able to debug those applications, builds would be invisible server side applications which took forever as everyone else was also building on the same server.

    In short, it would be an editor.  Writely with syntax highlighting, but not live syntax highlighting as javascript is nice, but not powerful enough to do that efficently in a live environment (it would be a serious dog).  AJAX wouldn’t be able to improve on this, and it would make a mockery of code-insight systems by dragging the speed down to a pathetic crawl in comparison to a native environment on your machine.

    No integration = no IDE.  It would be a DE, a development environment, or perhaps more appropriately, a DEAD END.

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