Making a code editor, Part 6
About a year ago I heard about Chromebooks and how popular they where in Schools. So I had to get one to experience it.
The reason schools buy Chromebooks is most likely about price and support. They are very cheap, I bought one for about $200.
The Chromebook performs very well. I actually prefer to use it over the Mac-book Pro I bought a few months later for about $2000 ...
The Chromebook basically is a Chrome browser ... It does run on Linux, but you can not install Linux apps, only Google Web apps, unless you root it (which is complicated).
Developing an app for the Chromebook using Google API's is a PITA, and Google is slowly deprecating all of it in favor of pure web apps, or so called progressive web apps, that looks and feel like a native app, but is a web app.
Chrome web store
I first tried to implement all the Google API's into my editor, but gave up as everything worked differently from the browser API's.
You can however make a plain web app into a hosted chrome app. All you need is a manifest file and icons - in order to publish the "app" in the Chrome web store!
So last Friday I scrapped the Google API's and published the editor as is ...
It's now Monday and no-one have spotted my app yet. You literally have to scroll for about 10 minutes before you find it ....
I also found out there's already many other editors and IDE's on the Chrome web store ... This is something I should have done on day one: Identify the market, and study the competition. Get a grip of what people want and what they are currently using. Although a bit too late that's is what I'm going to do in this blog post.
I tried all apps that showed up in Developer tools category that looked like it could be an editor/IDE, that show up in first five minutes of scrolling. A normal user would probably just try the first three apps.
|Name||Type||Status||JS function-list||Rating||Main complaint||Most praised feature|
|Tryit Editor||Code editor, in browser, chrome-extension||Works, 5048 users||Nope||4 (21)||No integrations (Github, Google drive)||easy to use|
|HTML5 Editor||Text editor, Chrome app||Works, 6338 users||Nope||3 (19)||Not enough reviews (my review: I don't understand why there's separate boxes for HTML,CSS,JS. There is no preview option like with "playground" type editors.)||Not enough reviews|
|Webpad||Text editor, Chrome app||Works, 4850 users||Nope||4 (16)||Not enough reviews (my review: "just a text/code editor". No language support.)||Not enough reviews (my review: You can save to Chromebook/Google drive storage)|
|Zed Code Editor||Chrome app||Works, officially endorsed by Google, 53,617 users||Nope||4 (245)||Some minor bugs, not actively maintained (last updated 3 years ago).||Good editor, has integrations (Google drive, Dropbox)|
|PLAYCODE||In browser, playground||Works, 67 users||Nope||5 (2)||Not enough reviews||Not enough reviews (my review: Like most other playgrounds like JSfiddle et.al.)|
|Wyliodrin STUDIO||Chrome app, IDE||Works, 6107 users||Nope, but has lanugage integration||5 (18)||Not enough reviews (my review: This actually *seems* to be a decent IDE that focus on IoT dev (Aurdino et.al.) with Wylliodrin's lib)||"I enjoy downloading it"|
|Code your Cloud||Code editor, dead, 4,978 users||HTTPS Cert error||Probably not||2.5 (172)||Lots of bugs and annoyances||Built in preview, can open files in Google Drive|
|Bootzee Bootstrap and Less Editor||Website builder. In browser||Active, requires sign-up, 2,267 users||Nope||3 (13)||Don't want hosting / want to pick own hosting,||Not enough reviews (my review: I's like a CMS but with code editing. Doesn't *seem* to have many features),|
|ShiftEdit||In browser||Works, 160,720 users||Nope||4 (1805)||Not free, "not a chrome app"||Develop from anywhere, active development, good support, can edit on FTP|
|Telerik Platform||Dev dashboard? One lib to rule them all. In browser||Retired, doesn't work, 10,982 users||Dunno||4.5 (53)||"too high $$"||Mobile dev|
|Editor for Chrome||HTML WYSIWYG/code editor, in browser||Buy for 53 SEK, 455 users||Dunno||3 (53)||no manual, no WYSIWYG!?||Save to Google Drive|
|Coding with Chrome||IDE, Chrome app||Works, 165,921 users||Nope||4 (126)||no documentation or tutorials||easy to make games|
|Cloud9||IDE, in browser||Active, 135,875 users||Nope||4 (589)||just a bookmark, needs CC to sign-up, network needed/issues||can access native clipboard, Github, ftp support, simple|
|Codeanywhere||IDE, in browser||Active, 52,794 users||Nope||4 (197)||issues with integration (Google drive, ftp)||Github, ftp support|
|SourceLair||IDE, in browser||Active, 19,603 users||Nope||4.5 (147)||Lacks some language integration features (issues with C++, doesn't support C#)||Easy to use|
|Espruino Web Ide||Espruino IDE, Chrome app||works, 19,621 users||Nope||4.5 (60)||Not enough reviews (my review: It doesn't have an emulator)||Easy to use|
|Code Pad IDE||Text/code Editor, Chrome app||Works, 10,593 users||Nope||rating||Would like to preview html and run code, how to compile code !?||"nice"|
|Keypress Editor||text/code editor, Chrome app||Works, 7172 users||Nope||4 (54)||Not enough reviews||auto-complete|
|Puresolid IDE||Code editor, Chrome app||Works, 2491 users||Nope||4.5 (49)||Not enough reviews (my review: Doesn't *seem* to have many features)||works offline, lightweight|
|Vertex Code||Text/code editor, Chrome app||Works, 3261 users||Nope||3 (7)||Not enough reviews (my review: Doesn't *seem* to have many features)||Not enough reviews|
|Caret||Text/code editor, Chrome app||Works, 247,171 users||Nope||4.5 (1120)||... every review say this is the best editor, (but doesn't tell you why) ...||Works offline, Syntax highlighting, Vim bindings.|
These where the top editor/IDE like apps. It took me several hours to go through them. A normal user would probably only spend 10 minutes or less, and only try the first 3 apps ...
Users count metric seems to be total installs (where uninstalls is not taken into account)
Apps last updated (you can't tell when they where added) late (year 2017 and later) seems to have very few users.
While apps added early, last updated in 2013, seems to have most users.
We are now in 2018 and I wonder if the Chrome web app store is dead !?
I know there are a lot of Chromebook users out there, but I guess they don't visit the Chrome store !?
Maybe they are mostly searching the web for apps ? Or they only use pre-installed apps !?
What I learned
- Empathise more that my editor is a new editor.
- Need to have Google Drive integration!
- Don't be too specialized, also write the languages that the editor supports in the app description, even though the support is not first class
- Need to have a manual and documentation!
- Make it clear (on screen-shots etc) that my editor has language features (function list).
- Empathise that my editor supports FTP and source control.
- I need to update the promo images so that my app looks to be a cloud editor. Add a cloud, add curly brackets, add lines (that represent code/text)
- Should probably make a Youtube video with cheesy music
Written by Johan Zetterberg May 28, 2018.