Just when you thought you had mastered the alphabet soup of cloud services, along comes DaaS (development-as-a-service). Al Hilwa, program director for IDC's Application Development Software research, explained how DaaS differs from the more established Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS), with which it shares some elements.
"PaaS is about running (or deploying) application platform software in the cloud, namely middleware and databases," he said. "However, most often the process of development, as opposed to deployment, is done on-premises, on a personal computer."
This has been the case because tooling for developers has become extremely graphical and the process of composing and constructing applications requires considerable graphical support, Hilwa added.
"So far this has been considered the province of client devices with computing power," he said. "However, as HTML5 becomes more widely deployed, it lifts the capabilities for browsers and makes it possible to have browser-based IDEs."
Enter Cloud9 IDE, which recently made the bold claim that its Cloud9 platform is the first commercial DaaS. Until recently, creating a responsive, browser-based IDE that is as advanced as those that run on the desktop wasn't possible, said Ruben Daniels, Cloud9 IDE's founder and CEO.
"But with advanced, open-source browsers such as Chrome and Firefox, and their incredible advancement over the past decade -- more than 3000 times faster -- that has changed," said Daniels. "Plus, bandwidth has increased throughout the world and it is enabling larger projects to be shared and synchronized across multiple devices."
According to Hilwa, Cloud9 is one of the most advanced browser-based IDEs in the market today, but a number of other tools are available in the DaaS market. In particular, other browser-based IDEs worth keeping an eye on include:
Hilwa said DaaS reflects the reality that the deployment itself may or may not be done in the cloud, but that the development process takes place there.
"There has been some criticism that browser-based IDEs are nothing more than cloud-based text editors with syntax highlighting, and I guess to some except that may be true, but it is a very short-sighted view," wrote Quinton Wall on the Force.com blog.
"Like many things in cloud computing, you need to change your thinking to truly take advantage of everything the cloud has to offer," Wall added. "Take CloudNine [sic] for example, they [sic] have embraced developer collaboration by allowing you to edit directly from a GitHub repository, and chat and collaborate with other developers all without leaving the IDE. This organic collaboration for developers is huge, it is the way we work these days!"