The reason is caught my eye was two fold:
- I could collaborate with another remote person on code in a mechanism like pair programming.
- My development environment was no longer pinned to my laptop, and even better – was available on any device where I sat down.
I had really achieved the second bullet some time before, but by utilizing remote terminals, linux shells and vim enhancements, and having tooling and ways to set up a VM or container to what I wanted. I maintained the equivalent of a Vagrant file for creating an openstack instance with exactly my development environment for ages. But the downside was the loss of the graphical environment – most of which I didn’t mourn too much, but there’s a benefit to an effective UI.
Cloud9 leveraged github accounts (today’s defacto default “developer identity”) to connect, and offered a fairly simple pricing scheme if you were applying a team to it. CodeEnvy appears to be doing something similiar, but with the usual “enterprise spin” and greater integrations into enterprise mechanisms. I personally enjoyed using Coda for IOS when I was seeing what options worked best for development while on an iPad Pro with a keyboard. Coda, along with Prompt, gave me great access to any cloud resources, with the speed/responsiveness benefit of a truly local editor.
A few of my coworkers have taken to setting up preconfigured containers for their development environment, leveraging docker to make their development environment tooling consistent while still using local editors to manipulate files. They’re doing all their development in Go. There’s a tremendous number of positive things to say about Go, but how to set up and use its tooling across different projects and dependencies isn’t among them. In that scenario, a Docker based tooling environment was a joy. Wish they’d ditch the Make files though, I’ve always hated them – regardless of how effective they are.
The big question in my head is “What will Amazon do with Cloud9”? There is some supposition that Amazon used it to pull focus away from Google, but Cloud9 also had ties/integrations into Salesforce and Heroku. I hope it wasn’t a situation of “we’re unsustainable, where the hell can we go to pay out our creditors” fire sale. Amazon has toyed for ages with how to best apply reasonable and effective UIs (and UX in general) over their services. They suck at it, to be honest. Cryptic, arcane, but if you know it and don’t mind a lot of confusion and cheat sheets, you can make it work. Not unlike Windows 3.1 back in the day.
Anyway, this hopefully this marks a point of infusion of UI/UX sanity into AWS service efforts. They need it.