Raspberry Pi Web IDE
Written by Harry Fairhead   
Thursday, 20 September 2012

The Raspberry Pi is a very cheap and reasonably powerful computing device but to get to work with it you have to master Linux. An easier way might be to use a Web IDE.

Adafruit is well known for electronics devices and kits but less well known for their software. Currently they are working on how to make the Raspberry Pi, the $25 one board computer, easier to use. The problem is that currently it all works with Linux which not every potential user knows or wants to learn just to be able to program the device. Of course you might be of the opinion that Linux is easy to use and worth learning but just to allow for an alternative how would you make programming more immediately accessible on the Pi?

You might think that the thing to do is to change the OS but this would be ignoring the way program development seems to moving to web based IDEs. You can also take the example of the very popular Arduino. In this case you don't use the Arduino to develop programs. You use a PC and then download them to the Arduino.

 

piwebide

 

Adafruit have taken a slightly different approach, more like that of Cloud9 or any of the high level language web based IDEs. In this case the web server runs on the Pi and the PC simply acts as a web browser.

"As the name suggests, the Raspberry Pi WebIDE is entirely web based. No need to install any software on your computer. Just open any modern browser, and connect to your Pi. Oh, and all of your code is stored in the cloud."

This may sound a bit crazy after all why add an expensive PC to the affordable Pi?

The Pi is often portrayed as a way of experimenting without the risk of damaging a PC rather than just being cheap. In addition there is the argument that you could use a cheap Android tablet to stand in for the Pi's keyboard and screen.

Currently Adafruit seem to be targetting the maker community, and this seems very reasonable:

"We love the Raspberry Pi. This tiny computer has so much potential for makers, and it is offered at an extremely reasonable price. The one thing we didn't like about the Pi is how inaccessible it is to those who are new to Linux. So, the tiny team that brought you the Adafruit Learning System set out to develop our own way to open up the Raspberry Pi for everyone. What started out as a barebones, and basic way to get code running on your Pi, turned into something much more awesome. The Raspberry Pi WebIDE is extremely easy to use, but also very feature-rich and powerful."


You can see the WebIDE working with Python and some embedded applications in the following video:

 

At the moment Adafruit aren't letting outsiders try the system as they regard it as an early alpha but they promise a more accessible beta in the near future.

 

More Information

Adafruit

Raspberry Pi Foundation

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Raspberry Pi or Programming - What shall we teach the children?

MagPi - A Raspberry Pi Magazine Reaches Issue 3

 

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