programming and designing in the browser

Clover 1 Coffee Machine
Clover 1 Coffee Machine
I remember a talk we had back in the early nineties, sale while I was working at Spry / Internet in a Box, generic the idea had come up of creating an OS that was entirely based on a browser. At the time the browser was NCSA Mosaic for use and an early beta of Netscape Navigator for the competition.  So to say it was too early to talk about is a bit of an understatement. However, it really felt the next logical step. Creating applications and services that ran entirely in the browser would have been crazy hard then with the limitations of  HTML. We didn’t have JavaScript or CSS yet. Everything we built was done as server side code. CGI applications written in either C/C++ or Perl. My weapon of choice became Perl and SQL for all my programming needs. With everything happening on the server you were a little limited with what you could do. Oh and most users were using a 56k dial up modem to get online.

Fast forward to today and a web application developer has a huge and amazing toolbox at their disposal. Rails, ASP.NET, Python, PHP, Flash, Silverlight, JavaScript, HTML5, CSS, Web Services like JSON, and on and on. Thanks to all the hard word and loads of talented people the limits are no longer the technology or access speeds. The limits now are only our creativity. Now we have geolocation, video, animations, and sound.

The only limit that we’ve had up until recently was that if you wanted to create interactive content you needed a client application running on your local machine. To create Flash you needed to purchase, install and use the editing tools locally. Which brings me to the point of this post. I only recently found out about a new crop of web based IDEs (Integrated Development Environment). In no particular order.


CodeRun Online IDE

You can create and edit .Net , Silverlight and many other types of projects. This is the best damn thing ever. I hope someone at Microsoft buys these guys.

Cloud 9

Cloude 9 IDE example

All your stand website editing power with Git and Mercurial integration. Paid accounts offer many must have features but the free version can get you up and running quickly.


use this to create your web apps in JavaScript. Plain and simple just the way it should be.


jsFiddle example

It’s not a full fledged IDE, but it is a great way to start learning, creating and sharing JavaScript snippets. Fantastic way to explore and experience in realtime how the code works.

Now for the design side of things

It’s not nearly as new but the design side has been very well covered too.

The current leader in desktop design has an excellent head start on the web with their service



Aviary is quickly becoming a designers hub online. What started as a Photoshop lite application for minor photo tweaks has quickly evolved in to one of the best collections of creative applications that run in the browser.


My personal favorite web based photo editing tool. I became hooked on Picnik thanks to its early Flickr integration that made it so easy to jump right in and edit my photos already on Flickr.