Remember this prediction?
“In the year 2000… you will be able to instantly replicate your colleague’s dev environment on your own computer.”
Just kidding! No one said this (not even during the Mother of All Demos). So what do you do when your fellow developer needs help? The best option is to stand at his or her desk. But remote teams, teachers and developers on the move know this is not always possible. In fact, as the development world becomes more geographically dispersed, this is a more immediate problem than it used to be.
Luckily there is a solution, it’s already here, and it’s as simple as pasting a URL.
Don’t Recreate It. Share It.
When you work in a Cloud9 workspace, the files you save and the runtimes you use are already operating in the cloud. By its nature a Cloud9 workspace doesn’t care where you are or what OS you use. In fact, c9.io/[yourname]/[yourproject] is just like any other URL on the web: it’s shareable. Pass it off to your colleague and the IDE loads up just as you see it; in a matter of seconds everyone is working in the same environment.
Think about that again. You don’t have to recreate a development environment because it exists independently from the computer you’re using.
How We Use Workspace Sharing
At Cloud9 we develop the c9.io codebase on Amazon EC2 instances with a feature called Remote SSH. Our team is spread out over 8 countries (Netherlands, USA, Egypt, Russia, Armenia, Poland, Italy and Greece) working on many different areas of the codebase, all from different operating systems and browsers. Is this a problem? Not at all.
When one of our team members needs help they simply share their workspace URL with another colleague. That’s it. No setup cost, no switching branches, no configuring of dependencies. Instantly we are in the same environment together, seeing each other edit in realtime. We can even chat with each other in the provided collaboration bar.
Flexible for Many Uses
We also use workspace sharing in a way you might not expect: providing support to our own users. If a developer on c9.io is having trouble with their workspace we simply ask for their workspace URL.
Teachers, students, conference-goers et al have found this same technique incredibly beneficial. No longer are they operating blindly, sending each other links to gists that only give a partial view of what’s wrong. By sharing the same workspace your fellow developer is right in the driver’s seat with you.
The Power is in the Platform
Cloud9 is more than an IDE. The power is in the platform, where your code and processes are separated from the computers being used. For the developers and support staff at Cloud9, plus thousands of developers around the world, the platform has become an indispensable part of daily development.
It might just be the right fit for your development needs too.