Koding Review

Taking the New Kodingen for a Test Drive

Posted 1 year ago by Tom Maiaroto.

So Kodingen has been hard at work rebranding and rebuilding its online IDE. They are now just "Koding" and their new service offering is still in beta...But it's pretty awesome. There are a few online IDEs that I love, but I don't feel like they can replace my local development environment.

Well, the new Koding may be a contender with its new version! All of the same old features that they had with its IDE and virtual machines that handle PHP, Perl, Python, and Ruby are here. Just redesigned a bit...And there's a terminal.

How does it all work? Just fine. In fact, I was able to clone my GitHub repo into my storage on Koding (with their GitHub app) and then simply move it to the web server's directory. I then went over to http://shift8.kd.io/sandbox/ and it worked. I have yet to test with PHP and their beta is still missing some features (that are visually alluded to for the future), but so far it's great. It seems like there will be analytics, DNS, and some firewall settings in the future so I really can't wait to see what the future holds here. 

Koding terminal

They do have a terminal that allows you to look over all your files and presumably setup public keys for working with git. However, I'm also sure that there's a lot of cleanup and build tasks that can be accomplished from that terminal as well for your projects. It does seem to have NPM installed (Bower seemed to install without problems) as well as allows you to run apt-get to install (some) packages (csstidy seemed to install just fine). You are restricted so anytimg the package manager needs to remove something, it seems like you're out of luck. However, you can see the entire file system and configuration for the web server. I didn't get a chance to really dive in here, but by default you can see the contents of .git directories, so I'd really need to take a look here in the future...But this is leaps and bounds ahead of their previous offering and blows away almost anything else out there. Remember, to get these kind of features you'd normally be paying a hosting company and setting it all up yourself. This is ready to go the minute you sign up and log in.

Koding IDE

Their IDE for coding remains relatively the same, though I like the entire interface a lot more. The options for your syntax highlighting theme, tabbing, etc. are right within reach and editing files seems pretty responsive. Though I was denied a few times when I tried to expand some folders using their file manager on the left and at times it is a bit sluggish to load things.

Another really cool feature that they've introduced are these apps. Everyone has an app catalog these days, right? Why not? So Ace is their editor application, but the way they have things setup, one may think that it's possible to see another editor in there in the future. For now there's a few apps including a GitHub browser that lets you easily clone repositories and a few others. Namely, Aviary, a basic image editor. You can crop, resize, rotate, adjust sharpness, contract, brightness, and so on. Obviously not a replacement for Photoshop or Gimp, but it is good for some quick adjustments here and there. Aviary saves to a documents directory on your VM. It will be up to you to move the file into your project from there.

You can open files from your left hand file browser in applications such as their Ace editor or other apps such as Aviary. Also note that you can only have one file open at a time (and there's not notification about that, so don't get frustrated trying to open a second file 50 times before trying to close the first open one like I did). All in all, a step in the right direction for an online IDE.

What would an app catalog be without 3rd party apps? Koding does allow you to build your own and has an App Maker application available for you that gives you a nice skeleton. I have not had a chance to dive in, but it seems legit. What kind of apps can you build? Seems like they are all JavaScript based...But they do have access to your VM's file system in some way (I quickly noted an FSHelper class while looking over the Aviary app's source code). I'm sure Koding will release some more information and documentation very soon (if it doesn't already exist out there). However, since I was able to view the source code for the Aviary app, I'm going to assume that if you can share your apps, don't expect them to be protected. Perhaps you can obfuscate your JavaScript though.

Koding takes it a step further by making things social with groups that you can join. Like many of the other features I listed above, they had this on their old site as well but, now it seems to fit a lot better. Aside from the completely revamped visuals that everything has taken on, I think it works better now because you really have a lot of people asking about how to use the new Koding IDE, there's a menu that breaks things down by snippets, tutorials, discussions and so on. So they really have taken steps to make it not only more approachable (and visually integrated) but also more engaging and collaborative. You can literally just sit there in a group and watch messages (and user actions) fly by in real-time. Awesome!

I can really see myself in there working with some people, getting and giving advice. Especially because you can open files directly from group messages. Yes, you can create your own groups and make them public or private with a whole host of options

All in all I think Koding has done an excellent job. I think the only things I can find fault with are few glitches with opening some files and speed issues. No doubt they are offering a lot of service to a lot of people so I can remain patient while a few files load. Other than that, I think their IDE is great but I haven't figured out if there is the ability to comment/uncomment blocks of code yet. I was sitting there line by line uncommenting some stuff which got annoying fast. I also really do wish you could work on files together with people in the same manner as Nitrous.io. If they add in that real-time file editing (think Google Docs but for code) ability, then it really may start making some people move completely away from developing locally. Maybe.

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