Coding in the Cloud – Part 3

As part of the series of blog posts on developing using cloud based tools, I will today review Kodingen.

Kodingen

Kodingen was created to give developers a free environment to create and host web applications during development, and to prevent time being wasted setting up development environments.  This ethos is reflected in the large developer community that the company is fostering, with over 25,000 people signed up for a Kodingen account.  The site is still in beta, but is approaching a full release.

The Kodingen Editor

Even before you create an account on Kodingen, you’re able to create files and test code in the site’s Community section.  You can code using PHP, Ruby, Python, ColdFusion, classic ASP and Miva Script on the site.  There is no support for .NET, and the Kodingen team have stated they don’t intend to implement this in the future.  There is no concept of projects or solutions. Instead, you organise your code and resources using folders under your Kodingen sub-domain, with a number of default folders being created for you (httpdocs, private, and sub-domains).

Once you create an account on Kodingen, you are able to make use of all the availableKodingen-Menu features.  And it quickly becomes clear that Kodingen is more than just your typical online coding editor.  The main features currently available include:

  • Your own sub-domain on the Kodingen site where all your files and websites are located.
  • Add additional sub-domains as required.
  • Make use of four different online code editors within the site (Ace, Bespin, CodeMirror and YMacs).
  • 1-click installation – you can install and configure a number of open source applications and platforms, including WordPress, Joomla and Drupal.
  • Able to use a personal FTP drive on your personal sub-domain to upload files.
  • Manage external FTP drives from your Kodingen account.
  • Create multiple MySQL database instances.
  • Upload existing web sites and files, and backup and download your work on the site.

All of the above are freely available, and the Kodingen team has promised that these features will be permanently available.  As the site is currently in Beta, a number of additional features are still not available.  These include:

  • Support of common web frameworks such as Ruby on Rails and Django.
  • Add your own domains and manage them from Kodingen.
  • Create and manage teams with other users to build web applications together.
  • Support for SqLite and Postgres databases.
  • Create and control SVN repositories (including Git and Mercurial).
  • The ability to buy additional disk space, bandwidth, domains and sub-domains, databases and FTP drives as require, using various monthly plans.
  • Add external code editors.

When the site does reach a full version 1.0 release, some of the above features will obviously be used to generate income to support the rest of the site.  The ethos of the site is to generate revenue from companies whilst keeping basic features free for developers.

What is it like to use?

The site is built on open source technologies, and has its own custom backend (KFM) that allows Kodingen to server over 10000 web sites from a single server.  Kodingen’s frontend is built on using the HTML5 canvas element, and is heavily optimized, resulting in an extremely fast, intuitive site to use.

To help you get started, there are a number of useful video tutorials.  When creating or modifying a code file, you have a choice of the four common open source web editors (Ace, Bespin, CodeMirror and YMacs).  The editors are fast and responsive, and you can view the resulting web page in either the Kodingen application, or in a separate browser window.  There is currently no integration with a version control system, but this has been promised for future releases.  There is also no code completion, so the code editors are more bare bones efforts compared to the usual desktop IDEs.  But as a developer, I’m very impressed.

Kodingen User Profile

There is a strong ‘social coding’ theme in Kodingen (use of personal profiles, ability to message one another, groups so that developers working on similar projects can interact with each other) which will only increase with the release of the team collaboration feature.

For the enterprise, there are a couple of major omissions.  It is not possible to use Kodingen with any version of Internet Explorer due to that browser’s lack of adherence to web standards, and lack of support for HTML5.  Also the current lack of support for Java and .NET, two major languages used in the Enterprise, will prevent many large companies from adopting Kodingen.  But this isn’t a major surprise – Kodingen has definitely been built by developers for other developers.

About Andrew Parkhill

I'm a software developer with over 5 years experience, primarily working with the Microsoft .NET framework and SharePoint.
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