Tuesday, June 25, 2013

So there I was wanting to develop on my Chromebook...

I have a new project I'm working on, and since I've switched to my Chromebook I was wondering if there was a way to do Java web development using it. My fallback plan is always to use Chrome Remote Desktop to connect to my iMac and just do normal development there. Enter Codenvy, stage left.

Codenvy is a cloud-based development IDE that can publish to a number of cloud-based platforms such as Google App Engine - the one I was interested in using for this new project. Seems like a perfect fit, and in some ways it is, some ways it isn't. Codenvy is really easy to start using and get connected to your Google App Engine account, so that was very slick. The deeper I got, however, the more shortcomings I encountered. For one, while the Codenvy IDE looks a lot like Eclipse, it just isn't - not yet, anyway. No control-click to go to a method is a huge disappointment. The auto-complete is mostly there, but only when you do things the way Codenvy wants. For example, if I have a CSS file, then auto-complete for CSS works well. But if you're editing a JSP with inline CSS or CSS in the HEAD, you're out of luck. I've also had a few occurrences of a file I edited and saved not getting updated on the remote end. I would go to test, realize that the change wasn't there, close the file in the IDE and reopen it, and sure enough the saved changes were gone. Ugh.

Still, it's a very interesting piece of work. It might not be ready for every developer yet, but for anyone like me that has totally fallen in love with their Chromebook and wants to develop within its limitation, Codenvy is some very slick software.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

My shiny (ok, Matte) new Chromebook

Well after much deliberation, I finally bought a Samsung Series 3 Chromebook. Not only that, and you should be seated for this part, it's my primary laptop now. Stop laughing, I'm serious! In all fairness, my old 2009 MacBook has been a bit twitchy lately, so I needed a replacement anyway. I thought about getting a new MacBook, but I knew I'd rather have a new iMac instead - much faster and more spacious for movie editing etc. So the Chromebook really fits my needs - and budget, no way I'd buy an iMac and a MacBook!

I really like this Chromebook. I've moved all my most common tasks to the cloud (Google Drive w/Docs, LucidChart, etc) and there isn't much I can't do on it. Development and heavy-duty movie/photo processing is still on a "real" computer, but even development can be done in the cloud now (Codenvy), it's crazy.

And while I know my Chromebook is slower than my MacBook, it doesn't feel slower. It actually feels faster - it only does one thing, and the entire system is tuned to that task, making it feel very snappy. Yes, I said "snappy" - deal with it.

My only gripes:

  • All ports (except headphone) are on the back. That can be a little annoying, although that's where most cables naturally want to be so it's only a minor peeve.
  • The unit closes really tightly - it's definitely a two-handed operation to open it up because it is so light!
  • No Cisco IPSEC support, which is what my work VPN requires.
  • Memory not expandable - comes with 2 GB which works quite well, but I'm sure 4 would be better!
Overall, I am really in love with the Samsung Series 3 Chromebook - highly recommended!