Terminal – The next revolution in cloud computing
Why a new cloud-based development tool called Terminal is about to change how we develop, teach, QA and collaborate.
As futuristic as it may sound, the concept of working from the cloud is nothing new. Over the past few years, the cloud has brought countless innovations to IT, and as Gartner predicts, it’s going to stay big in 2015.
But only now is it starting to change how we work on code.
Terminal: Developing in the cloud
A new startup in San Francisco (where else?) is making it possible to develop apps in virtual, cloud-based computer environments. Even if you haven’t already heard of it, chances are you’ll soon be hearing about nothing else.
A number of Facebook and Google employees left the nest to pioneer a new way to develop in teams. The main advantages:
- Writing, ship and collaborate right out of a browser
- Faster collaboration and sharing in remote projects
- Sharing a URL to your work makes approval and QA processes simpler
- Can be used in educational environments to help workshop tutors get their students to collaborate on one project
- Also a useful recruiting tool for observing how applicants write code in realtime
A virtual server for every user
Driving the change from monoliths to containers, Terminal is taking containerisation further than Docker. A developer logs on and starts coding on their own private server per app.
He or she can also make a ‘snap’ of their running server and add it to the growing list of public snaps on terminal.com. The platform is designed to work well with Heroku or VMware and with any stack or language.
The ability to share your cluster with colleagues via a simple URL will make processes like QA, approval and continuous integration not just simpler, but also faster. Speed seems to be a major selling point of this new environment, and Oren Teich, Heroku’s former COO is quoted as saying “Terminal lets me spin things up, move them about, and toss them away faster than I thought possible.”
Terminal is also being touted as a nifty educational tool. A workshop of students can log on to the tutor’s app, stack or tutorial and get coding together as a group. Any changes a workshop member makes are instantly seen in real-time – a bit like Google Docs for developers.
On top of its potential for use in the classroom, Terminal is already being used in developer assessment days, as Will Kessler of CrunchBase explains:
“…it’s fantastic for interviewing job candidates, because we can “watch” them work remotely on job-specific tasks we set up on our Terminals. Candidates can do whatever they want with the Terminals without any risk to us, and they only need a browser.” – CrunchBase’s head of mobile, Will Kessler
Terminal charges by the hour and its energy-saving servers will pause to save money/the environment when you’re not using them. Two CPUs with 3200 MBs of RAM cost up to around $90 a month.
The current frontier in cloud computing making it possible for one instance to be accessed by many, as Gartner predicts. “In the near term, the focus for cloud/client will be on synchronizing content and application state across multiple devices and addressing application portability across devices.” Gartner’s Tech Trends study explains that “over time, applications will evolve to support simultaneous use of multiple devices.” It looks like Terminal is already well on the way there.