CODIAD – Self hosted cloud IDE for Microsoft Dynamics

When developing web resources for use in Microsoft Dynamics, I am a big fan of using Visual Studio with Visual Studio Team Services (VSTS), but for smaller organisations, or less experienced developers, sometimes this is overkill.  I know a lot of people who just make do with Notepad++, and why not, as it’s perfectly capable of editing code, syntax highlighting and formatting.

In my journey to discover and use as many self hosted web-based systems as I can (stay tuned for an upcoming post for more information), I wondered if there was anything that might help Dynamics developers.

That’s when I happened upon CODIAD ( http://codiad.com/ ) which is an online IDE for developing JS, HTML, CSS, XML and many more file formats.  It offers full syntax highlighting, project collections and an extensible plugin system.

Before we begin, let me state that I am in no way recommending this for any production related development tasks, and as a replacement for other tools, but instead, just highlighting it as a possibility.

Stolen straight from their website, here is a list of the main features.

Support for 40+ languages
Plugin Library
Error checking & notifications
Multiple user support
Editor screen splitting
LocalStorage redundancy
Advanced searching tools
Smart auto-complete
Real-Time Collaborative editing
Over 20 Syntax color themes
Completely Open-Source
Easily customized source
Runs on your own server
Quick-Download backups
Maximum editor screen space

I decided to download it and install it on some shared hosting (I didn’t want to mess around with full on virtual machines or Linux servers) to see if I could get it working.

I am happy to report that it was very straight forward.  I downloaded the latest version, I uncompressed it and FTP it up to the Hosting file system in the htdocs folder, and then navigated to the main page.  I very brief setup process got me running in no time at all and presented me with a log in screen.

After logging in, your presented with the main IDE interface.

Some interesting points to note about the above screenshot.

  1. The top left window shows the files in the current project.
  2. The bottom left window shows the current projects.
  3. The right section is a fly out window that offers various options.
  4. Note at the bottom left there is an alert indicating that a different user has the file open – Multi user functionality win win! 
  5. Bottom status bar for settings, split window view for both vertical and horizontal and current language of the file.

Now, if I open a JavaScript file (which is a common CRM task), it shows the next screenshot.

  1. Notice the really nice Syntax Highlighting.
  2. Notice the mini map on the right – nice feature available as a plugin.
  3. Notice the warning symbol in the margin next to the line numbers. When hovering your mouse over it, the tool tip shows a nice little pointer as to whats up.  This is a really nice feature for those who are not experts in JavaScript, and can quickly alert you to errors, and best practice.

It has features for uploading and downloading files, printing files, copy, paste, rename and duplicating files.  One nice feature is also the ability to compare two files as well.  Not quite as good as Visual Studio, but workable.

Sadly, it does not perform any kind of file locking when multiple users are trying to edit the same file, and could also mean that one person could overwrite the work of another, but at least the warning that someone else is editing the file can help to reduce the problem.

There are a lot of plugins available to allow the IDE access Git repositories, FTP, beautify code, minimize code etc.  Some of these I was able to test with some good success, but due to the fact I was using Shared Hosting, I could not try any of the advanced features such as FTP, Git, SVN etc.

The following file types are support, with error checking and syntax highlighting:

All told though, it does seem to be a really nice tool, and I could imagine it would be excellent used in a team of a few CRM Consultants who can get by with JavaScript, HTML etc, but not necessarily code warriors using Visual Studio.

It’s definitely one I will be keeping installed on one of my personal “domains” as it also gives me a nice code editor for my iPad.

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