Meditations on programming, startups, and technology
New Relic

Interview with the team

1. For those who don’t know, what is an online compiler and how did you come up with the idea?

CompilrAn online compiler, or online IDE is a full software development environment on the web. This allows us programmers to develop from a wider range of machines without any software installations, and to always have our code handy whenever we may need it. There are a wide range of online compiler’s out there today, but is unique since our goal has been to create a fully fledged IDE for developing desktop applications on the web. The idea itself spawned from a combination of wondering what makes an IDE all that it is, knowledge of server side web development languages like PHP and using modern JavaScript libraries to create some really desktop-like user interfaces, and it’s because of the interest in these technologies that we have been able to bring Compilr to where it is today.

2. Why is using an online compiler / online IDE better than programming on my computer?

To develop from a wider range of machines without any software installations, and to always have our code handy whenever you may need it. But some more truly great things can be accomplished from an online IDE such as the ability to develop Windows code from any other OS or a fully online software team communication suite; allowing team members to work on the same code, communicate code changes actively, and instant message each other. Yes, you can accomplish this with desktop software to some extent, but with an online environment you can bring those change notifications instantly opposed to having to look for changes in source control such as svn or git. Online IDEs can also bring a whole new level to social code sharing, like open public projects that can be edited and tested by anyone in the entire world directly in their browser, yet still providing everyone with the version control they need to spot and prevent issues.

3. How did you translate a traditional IDE into a web format, and what stack did you use for the web IDE itself?

Currently we have deployed a lovely combination of Drupal for our CMS features, ExtJS for the bulk of our IDE’s user interface, a custom back-end service to handle code building and a number open source projects.

4. Would you consider Compilr to be complete enough for production use or is there substantial work still to be done?

It all depends on your production, currently we do not have any team integration, but we do support publicly visible projects. So if you’re a one person army, working on a Java, C#, or desktop application or XNA game, then Compilr might be the right solution for you! In my mind there is always work to be done and this includes: code completion “IntelliSense”, online execution of applications and debugging beyond build warnings and errors, and all those lovely team integration features I mentioned earlier.

5. What is on the horizon for

Besides all the features we want to add, we are always looking for suggestions, expanding our user base, and looking for way to gain recognition for ourselves and Online IDEs in general, we really believe that online IDEs will provide a lot of value for developers in the future.

6. Are there any technological concerns for maintaining an online compiler? What about security?

Security is definitely a concern for us, during our development we take a lot of care in making sure our access points are as secure as possible, although we are human, and we are capable of making mistakes, so we preform regular backups just in case.

7. As more users come to Compilr, how do you plan to scale the system?

We are constantly optimizing code so we can fit more users on to less machines, with less bandwidth. But we also plan on clustering our users, for example: Group 1 would be mirrored on server A and B while Group 2 would be on server C and D. Completely separating the users data and compilation requirements, besides the common elements required by the CMS front end.

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2 Responses to “Interview with the team”

  1. keith says:

    would be great to try, but there’s a captcha error on the create account page and the captcha stuff isn’t even visible on the page. would be great to contact them to tell them, but the same problem exists on their contact us page. tried chrome and ie… same problem on both.

    • Nick says:

      Hi Keith,

      My name is Nick, I’m part of the Compilr team. That Captcha error is something set-up in Drupal that we should soon fix – what happens is that if you double click on ‘submit’ you will get a captcha error, but the form will actually have been submitted. You should have gotten an email with your registration, if not feel free to contact us!

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