Making a code editor, Part 6

Read part 1:, part 2, part 3:, and part 4, part 5 (Swedish)


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.

In Sweden where I live, programming will be a first class school subject from next year. Everyone is using a Chromebook, and you can't use any of the popular IDE's on it ... So I though this would be a good market for my IDE/editor ! JavaScript is also great for beginners (well, greater then Haskel, Rust, C++, Python, Perl

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
JavaScript Editor JS/HTML/CSS playground, in browser Active, 104,152 users Nope 4.5 (257) it's a website Show results and descriptive errors, good for learning
JavaScript Editey Text editor, in browser I was too scared to run this as it wanted basically full access to my Google account. It has 56,606 users Don't think so 4 (215) unable to uninstall "nice"
Caret-T Text/code editor, Chrome app Works, 21,104 users Nope, but has Tern (JS support) 4.5 (63) file corruption, it's a fork of another editor Supports JavaScript, good editor
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)
Live Web Development Browser, playground Same as "JavaScript Editor", 11,287 users Nope 4 (29) Not enough reviews (my review: It seems a bit shady that the other same app is ranked nr1). "nice"
PLAYCODE In browser, playground Works, 67 users Nope 5 (2) Not enough reviews Not enough reviews (my review: Like most other playgrounds like JSfiddle
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 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

Written by May 28, 2018.

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