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Web-Based IDEs? Less Far Fetched Than You Think

Do you remember the Eclipse 4.0 "prototype" shown at the EclipseCon? Yes, the web-based Eclipse workbench? I must admit that I've not been very convinced that a web-based IDE would have much practical appeal. However seeing the demo videos for Heroku - a web-based IDE and hosting environment for Ruby on Rails applications - has changed my mind.

After all if the app has to be on the web and source == binary (Ruby is interpreted), why not put the IDE on the web too? Having the tools, the code and the runtime environment on-line makes several things easier:
  • Start working in a snap: Instant access to the source code from anywhere. No need to set-up an IDE. No need to set-up a local Ruby on Rails environment. No need to check out any code. Your data is there.
  • Instant collaboration: create a developer account. Send link to log-in page to developer. Start collaborating. (I hope it will support collaborative editing).
  • Deployment of the app is trivial. No need to find and configure a suitable server.
  • The "hosted-everything" aspect could make a great "source-forge-with-hosting" combo. Imagine finding a good web-application and just having to click on "deploy and run this on my account" for giving it a test drive.
This seems to be an excellent fit for Ruby and I'm looking forward to giving it a test-drive.

Now, how does it apply to Java web-apps?
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