Eclipse Orion Online IDE Provides Effective Tools for Web Development

By Jeff Cogswell  |  Posted 2013-03-12 Print this article Print

The benefit to that, however, is that you could bookmark the pages so they open up directly. Compare that with, for example, Cloud 9 IDE, where you have a single URL and the entire app operates within a single "page" in the browser. (I hesitate to use the word "page" these days, however, as it's an entire application, not just an HTML page.) But in the case of Cloud 9, you get multiple tabs and the app maintains its state so that if you close it, you can come back later and it will open the tabs up right where you left off.

However, there's actually a good reason for the URL switching when you open a new file in Orion. The whole system is built on the Representational State Transfer, or REST, architecture. So the URLs show exactly where you are and the underlying code makes heavy use of these URLs, which can be used to support system extensibility. I'll cover this shortly.

As for projects, you can create projects in a few different ways. One is to click the Sample HTML5 Site, which creates a starter project for you, including a .css file, a .js file and a .html file—but no server side code. You can also import a project in a couple of ways, including using SFTP to directly import from your local file system, or by cloning a GIT repository.

Orion Designed to Be Extensible

Like much of Eclipse itself, Orion is built with extensibility in mind. The entire back-end is built to be both extensible and loosely coupled so you can actually scale it down to a subset of components. That means you can choose to only use the components you need for your development environment. Right now, at the stage it's in, this doesn't seem totally necessary, but I  would expect later on we're going to see many different builds of Orion that support different languages and platforms in the same way that the desktop version of Eclipse has many different editions.

For example, when you install the desktop version of Eclipse, you can choose from more than a dozen different configurations, such as one for C++ developers, one for Java EE developers and so on. I suspect that's the direction they're headed with Orion, as well. As such, the entire system is architected as a set of Web components and a set of back-end services. The services are published in a local registry so that the client side can know what features are available.

Also, like the desktop version, you're encouraged to extend the product. This is a smart move, as this extensibility is one reason Eclipse has been so successful over the years. For front-end extensions, there's a sample starter project in the list of types of projects you can create. This project starts you out with a nicely written skeleton JavaScript file that's 212 lines long and an HTML file that describes the plug-in. The initial sample itself is a demonstration of code that interacts with the code editor and converts text to uppercase.


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