Mik Kersten Blogs on IDE 'Pipe Dream'

Web-Based IDEs: Not Likely For 2011

Despite the current buzz surrounding Orion, Mik Kersten has warned that we should not expect to see the enterprise developer's IDE running in the browser, in 2011. "Apart from the OS, the IDE may now be the most complex piece of software running on your desktop computer," he says, therefore, porting it into the browser is no easy task. The need for extensibility and the state of the current generation of browser-based JavaScript runtimes, could both be major barriers to getting IDEs running in the browser. Kersten warns the community not to underestimate the work this task requires, as he predicts the current desktop-based IDE functionality cannot be easily ported to the browser and still enjoy "the sort of fidelity and breath of tool support" developers currently experience in the desktop.

However, Kersten concedes that 2011 will see advancements in web-based IDEs for specific use cases, especially since the combination of a push towards hosting applications in the cloud and the desire to lower the barrier of entry for mobile development, will help convince vendors to provide SaaS offerings that incorporate parts of the app development experience. Another area where web-based IDE features will creep in, is non-enterprise application development where a simplified tool stack is applicable. He also predicts JavaScript will play a pivotal role in driving the IDE to the cloud, due to a "lack of a clear winner for JavaScript development environment on the Eclipse front." He predicts IDEs will subtly evolve to more closely resememble a connected RIA, thanks to extensions such as Tasktop Enterprise, and cloud-hosted source code, tasks and builds. "The professional IDE will start feeling more like a connected and offline capable Mozilla Thunderbird or Microsoft Outlook," he says. Kersten sees products such as VMware's Code2Cloud suite of cloud-based development, deployment and collaboration tools as evidence of unified hosting moving into the web.

Be sure to check out our interview with technical lead of the Eclipse Platform UI team, Boris Bokowski, for more information on the hot topic of web-based IDEs.

Jessica Thornsby

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