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How is Coding on Chromebook?

coding on chromebook

Google Chromebook fills a vital gap that was left wide open by the Windows 10, Linux, and Mac based laptops. Chromebook is a laptop that is simple, budget-friendly, optimized and has a long battery life. However, the real question is: can Chromebook perform well in professional tasks. More importantly, how is coding on Chromebook?

Windows 10, Linux, and Mac based laptops already have a strong customer base. Most of the hardcore professionals look toward Linux operating system for development. Many also prefer Windows 10 for its compatibility and ease of use. Similarly, Mac OS is well known as a professional platform. But, what about the Chrome OS? Can you code on Chromebook? If so how?

Well, to answer that questions, we need to understand what a Chromebook is in the first place.

What is a Chromebook?

coding on chromebook

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Chromebook made its entry at the Google I/O Conference on May 2011. It has since then become one of the most popular brands in the market these days.

Unlike other laptops which run on Windows or Mac OS, Chromebook is powered by Google’s signature Linux-based operating system, the Chrome OS. It is specifically designed to be used primarily with online connectivity and utilizes the cloud as its primary form of storage.

Like most laptops, Chromebook has its share of limitations. Most Chromebooks have a storage capacity of 16GB and only offers entry-level processors. Its RAM is also minimal as it only goes for up to 4GB in most models.

As far as specifications go, Chromebooks also has its upsides. Its battery life last longer compared to other brands and with a full charge, its battery can last an entire day. Its performance is also quite fast and stable with regards to its intended purpose of working in the cloud.

Benefits of Coding on Chromebook

As for any programmer, a transition to a new platform creates compatibility issues. Chrome OS offers limited offline capabilities, and most Windows-based or Mac-based applications will not work on Chrome OS.

Instead, Chrome OS makes up for that flaw by utilizing web-based applications. Users can choose and add from thousands of web applications thru the Chrome Web Store, Google’s online app store.  The multi-layer security architecture of Chrome OS also eliminates the need for anti-virus software.

Coding on Chromebook can be a little tricky at first especially for those just starting. Here are some tips on how you can make coding easier on Chromebook:

1. Working on cloud-based IDE’s (Integrated Development Environment)

Most Windows/Mac-based IDE applications and programming tools are not supported in Chrome OS but luckily, there are numerous cloud-based IDE platforms on the internet. This mean you will be coding online thru these cloud-based IDE platforms. These platforms come with their own unique set of features and support many of the most common and advanced programming languages and tools in the market today.

2. Integrating Chrome-based extensions

Coding on Chrome OS means you will be using Chrome browser for the majority of the time. There are a variety of cloud-based IDE extensions on the Chrome Web Store which can be unexpectedly helpful in your transition to coding on Chromebook. An example is ShiftEdit where you can create, edit, and publish HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and PHP with full syntax highlighting. This is excellent for web development.

3. Utilizing the Chrome Web Store

The Chrome Web Store offers a multitude of web applications, ranging from programming tools to full developer software kits. It also hosts several other categorized apps such as games, documents, and music. Whether you are looking to add something to your coding experience, you should check out the Chrome Web Store as it might have the application you need. Better yet, you can also submit web applications thru it for the whole world to know and use!

4. Using local tools such as text editors

If you are not comfortable coding via cloud-based IDE platforms, you can try IDE platforms that have offline support. Since its launch in 2011, many cloud-based IDE platforms have offline support such as Cloud9, Shift Edit, and Zed.

5. Taking advantage of Chromebook’s free Google Drive storage

Most brand new Chromebook comes with a free 100GB storage on Google Drive for two years and unlimited music on Google Play Music for 90 days. Resuming work is made easier as you can just deposit your files and documents on Google Drive and download it at a later time. You can also listen and sing along to your favorite hits while coding, courtesy of Google Play Music.

Cloud-based IDE Platforms

Although you can install another Linux-based operating system on most Chromebooks (or even do a dual-boot), most Chromebooks lack in the specification department (small storage, minimal RAM) and such, coding via cloud-based IDE platforms is the optimal way to code. Here are some cloud-based IDE platforms to choose from for coding on Chromebook.

Codeanywhere

codeanywhere

A free cloud-based cross IDE platform created by the guys in Codeanywhere, Inc. This platform lets you create, edit, collaborate, and run web development projects from any device. It supports 75 programming languages and syntax, offers code completion, linting, built-in terminal console, and instant SSH terminal console session collaboration. It also connects to Google Drive and Dropbox!

Shift Edit

shift edit coding on chromebook

An online cloud-based IDE platform for developing web pages and websites. It supports PHP, Ruby, HTML, JavaScript, CSS, and Java and also comes with a built-in FTP. It also connects to Dropbox and includes a Git client, Github integration, and Bitbucket integration. The platform itself is customizable.

Codenvy

codenvy chromebook coding

Codenvy is another cloud-based IDE platform that supports HTML, CSS, JavaScript, PHP, Java, Ruby among others. It is built around Eclipse Che, a Java-based open-source workspace server and cloud IDE that offers a remote platform for online collaboration. It is also one of the best IDE platform to date and offers not only several other features but also has its own unique set of features.

Cloud9

cloud 9 how to code on chromebook

Another free cloud-based IDE platform that supports several programming languages such as C++, C, CSS, HTML, Java, JavaScript, and PHP. It also has what other cloud-based IDE platform offers; syntax highlighting, built-in terminal console, SSH workspace, linting, and FTP. The workspaces are powered by Docker Ubuntu containers which give you full freedom over the entire platform.

CodeChef

If you want a simple cloud-based IDE platform, CodeChef might be the one for you. It has a minimalistic design and designed primarily for entry-level developers. It offers support for at least 35 programming languages, and even hosts featured contests every month and rewards prizes to the winners.

Conclusion

Although every platform has its pros and cons, coding on cloud-based IDE platforms has never been easier. Almost all programming tools and languages have been incorporated into these IDE’s and offer several other unique features.

Leaving all your files and documents on the web may be a little bit off at first but the added luxury of saving your progress without the need to worry about storage or losing it and resuming work at a later time even in a new device is an incredible value. It may take some time before you finally settle to coding on Chromebook but give it time and you will appreciate what it can do for you.

2 Comments

  • I wouldn’t recommend a Chromebook as a main work computer for programming, but I LOVE them for their price and their easy maintenance. If you live in the Google ecosystem, the Chromebook works like magic. It does take getting accustomed to having your data all in the cloud and being able to always be connected, so better make sure you can do that before committing to one.

    • Actually, the cloud is getting more and more powerful. It is also quite convenient, which is what Chromebook seems to strive for.

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