A good development environment is essential for every programmer. Whether you are developing the latest web apps or learning a language for the very first time, the environment you use should be convenient and easy to use.
IDEs (Integrated Development Environments) are designed to make coding easier for developers. Most of them are offline programs installed onto the computer’s hard disk.
Many browser-based IDEs are suitable for coding in the cloud. Most of them have limitations when compared to their offline counterparts, but they are improving all the time. No matter what you plan to make, there is an IDE for almost every use.
1. Best Professional Online IDE: AWS Cloud9
When Amazon bought the Cloud9 IDE in 2016, it was already a firm favorite with developers. Full integration with Amazon Web Services makes it arguably the most powerful and extendable online development platform currently available. The online IDE combines a code editor with a terminal and powerful debugging tools.
Cloud9 also features a pair programming mode similar to VS Live share allowing collaborative remote programming in teams. Need fast prototyping? Cloud9 gives you direct access to AWS services through the integrated terminal assist.
2. Best Free Online IDE: CodeTasty
CodeTasty is a fully featured cloud IDE in the cloud, and is quick and simple to set up.
All major languages are supported, along with linting and transpiling for Typescript among others. The editor itself is a full virtual development environment complete with terminal and output windows. CodeTasty is free and fully functional, though paid tiers are available for more project options and team collaboration.
3. Best Online IDE for Beginners: Codeacademy
Alongside language learning, Codeacademy provide Pro and Pro Intensive paid courses designed to cover whole subjects. Expert courses on machine learning, test driven development and front end web development are just some of those available.
4. Best Online IDE for Artists: p5.js
As well as creating beautiful visuals, the p5.js library offers opportunities for interaction. Our Voice-Sensitive Robot Animation tutorial shows how quick and easy it is to create reactive art with p5.js.
5. Best Online IDE for Python: Codevny
An online Python IDE needs to be quick, easy to use, and have a terminal for testing. Codenvy provides all of these things and much more. Codenvy is language agnostic, and each instance of the IDE is an independent development environment.
Extra packages and modules can be installed using the online terminal. Codenvy is a robust development and collaboration tool, and capable of almost all forms of modern development.
JSFiddle is entirely free (ad supported) and used by giants like Google and Facebook alongside thousands of developers.
7. Best Online IDE for GitHub Users: Gitpod
While the concept of a GitHub IDE might seem strange at first, it makes a lot of sense. Gitpod exists as a way to edit files on GitHub in the browser. A browser extension adds a button to the GitHub page, which when clicked opens a workspace for the current project.
Editing takes place in an IDE based on VS Code. Side by side code comparison is built in, along with commenting for collaboration within a team. Gitpod is a unique idea and currently in a free beta stage for public and private repos.
8. Best Online IDE for Ruby and Ruby on Rails: Repl.it
Ruby holds a special place in many coders’ hearts. It is easy to read, concise to write, and the backbone for the ever trendy Ruby on Rails platform. An online IDE for Ruby should be bold, simple and aesthetically pleasing. Repl.it has environments for both Ruby and Ruby on Rails and is the perfect place to sharpen your skills.
9. Best Online IDE for Designers: Codepen.io
If you want to make beautiful looking things for the web, Codepen.io is the place for you. The IDE operates like a sketchbook for all kinds of front end web development. A massive community of all skill levels continuously push the limit of what is possible in the browser.
The weekly Spark newsletter is a collection of the best pens from the week along with the Codepen Radio podcast. Alongside its community, Codepen has many other awesome features for coders and web developers.
10. Best Online Coding IDE for Kids: Small Basic
Starting to code is tough for kids. Small Basic includes a kid-friendly online editor which is forgiving with code syntax. The language is readable but close enough to actual code to be useful.
The included library covers drawing, text input, sound, and even some basic networking. Check out some simple coding projects for kids on the platform to see if it’s for you!
11. Best Block Based IDE for Kids: Tynker
Parents and kids to learn together with the Tynker block-based platform. There are multiple free courses available to try the service out, but paying the monthly $7.50 subscription gets you much more. Tynker has an extensive library of coding, game, hardware and Minecraft modding courses for ages seven upwards.
12. Best Online IDE for Arduino/IOT: Arduino Web Editor
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the best place to program Arduino boards online is Arduino’s own Create Web editor. While still in its infancy, it works much like the offline IDE. Alongside the code editor, the library manager and serial monitor are also available in the browser.
Currently, there is only support for official Arduino boards and a handful of others, however more support is coming in the future. One caveat of this IDE is the need to download a small bridge program to access the USB ports and upload code.
13. Best Online IDE for Visual Hardware Programming: XOD.io
XOD is an open source, node-based visual programmer for Arduino boards. Each block represents devices and sensors, and you can make links between them by dragging lines from each node.
The library comes with many nodes for different uses, and collections of nodes collapse into new nodes for clean, readable blocks.
Unfortunately, the browser version of XOD does not support upload to boards directly. There is, however, a Simulate mode which will test the program without the need for a connected board.
Coding on the Cloud
Many of the IDEs on this list are capable of doing nearly everything a coder requires. However, most come with some limitations. Many have a subscription cost to cover costs, and they all require a constant connection to the internet to function properly.
Offline IDEs have the convenience of not requiring an internet connection, and many, including Microsoft’s Visual Studio and VS Code are powerful and free.