If you own a Chromebook or any other computer with Google Chrome OS, Jolicloud or even Browser Linux, you may think it’s hard to do any type of programming on such a machine. If you’re not quite into using IDEs (Integrated Development Environment), and prefer using a plain text editor, gedit will surely fit your needs on these laptops, but what if you want to debug your programs?
I recently went on a search to find anything that was web-based and remotely similar to an IDE that could run Java programs since there was no way I could figure out how to install Eclipse on my old laptop running Browser Linux. My primary computer had died in the middle of my Java course, leaving me to find the closest thing I could to a compiler until my new machine was delivered. I was relieved to find two great applications that didn’t require me to install anything, yet helped me run and test Java programs without any complications.
The two applications are TextDropApp and Ideone. TextDropApp is a simple web-based text editor that syncs with Dropbox, while Ideone is a pastebin and online compiler that can help you run code online in 40+ programming languages.
Editing Text Files With TextDrop
If you have your own server, you can establish an SSH connection and edit text files with nano, but if you don’t, there are many storage sites that can really be great when you don’t have a permanent desktop or just need to save files online for access everywhere later.
Since I already use and plan to continue using Dropbox, I’ll be talking about Dropbox, though you can certainly use other similar services, such as Box.net and Evernote. For syncing with Dropbox, TextDrop can definitely be a lifesaver since it can also create files in your Dropbox. Once you go to the TextDrop site, you won’t be able to type anything until you log in. You will actually be re-directed to Dropbox’s website, where you can authorize TextDrop. After that, you’ll be able to create a new text file or open a text-based file, e.g. “ROCKSTAR.java”.
TextDrop is very minimalistic so it doesn’t have things like syntax highlighting (yet), but it’s easy to use and convenient. Hitting Ctrl+S saves the text file you’re working on, a change that is, of course, instantly reflected on the Dropbox website.
You’ll no longer need to download files, edit them in a desktop text editor program and re-upload them.
If you use Google Chrome or the open-source Chromium, you can also try SourceKit, a programmer’s text editor that can also sync to Dropbox servers. If you don’t need syntax highlighting or just need a text editor for regular non-programming folks, also check out the distraction-free text editor app, WriteKit, built by the same Sourcekit author.
Compiling & Running Code With Ideone
When you’re done editing a function and you wish to compile your code and/or run your code through test cases, Ideone works really well. It supports 40+ programming languages and doesn’t require an account for you to run and test your code. If you plan to use it more than a few times though, an account can, of course, keep track of your code snippets, and also enable other neat extras – you can edit submissions, clear the ads, increase the limit of your running time from 5 to 15 seconds, and more.
To compile your code, just paste it in the text box, choose your programming language, whether to execute the code and whether you want to make your code public before hitting Submit. You’ll know when the compiler has finished its job.
Even though your code snippet is private, you can share it with colleagues using the provided shortened URL, clone and/or download the code, and copy it to your clipboard.
If you program regularly, you probably have all the tools you need to do your work, but if you’re facing an emergency like I did with limited tools, or you just do a lot of traveling with just your tablet and need to quickly check your code with an online compiler, Ideone does the job nicely. If you use TextDrop, you can simply paste the code, compile and execute it all online!
Do you know of similar tools? Let us know in the comments!
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