Chromebook works on Chrome OS, an open source operating system which is designed and developed by Google.
It serves as portals to access the Internet and run/open cloud-stored apps and data. Its minimal setup requirements, hassle-free maintenance and automatic updating attracts a huge user population.
That being said, when talking about development in a Chromebook, currently it is nowhere near to the other operating systems. This is because it is still in its infancy.
Though there are enough tools for users working in a cloud based environment, there are no local IDEs to offer everything you need. You definitely get plenty of online IDEs to program in any language you need though and that is where the essence of Chromebooks lie.
Chromebook for Development
Since most, if not everything, is done online, you cannot get most of the common software like Microsoft Office, Photoshop, or even famous IDEs on Chromebook.
This is something that frustrates many professional developers who are not used to working on cloud. Though there are many users who are accustomed to using applications on their mobile devices, and use Google Docs instead of paying for Microsoft Office, there is a user population that takes it as an inconvenience.
Although there are trade-offs working on a Chromebook there are a few benefits that are found nowhere else which you can pleasantly use for you development efforts.
No Storage Troubles – As Chrome OS supports cloud based web development all the data is saved on Google’s servers in the cloud which makes it available wherever you are.
Easy Access – Even in case of theft of the machine, all the data is safe. You just need to login from another device and access the data from there.
Development on a Chromebook
#1 Online/Cloud Services –
Working on cloud actually means you are using web applications as your development tools. There is a range of cloud based IDEs available either free or require subscription. They provide real-time collaboration, auto run, code completion, off-line mode and more. For example, Cloud 9 IDE supports hundreds of programming languages, allows web developers to collaborate in remote teams and can handle several files in a virtual workspace running on Ubuntu platform. Codeanywhere is a cross-platform cloud IDE which provides a complete toolset for web development and enables code sharing, real-time collaboration, code completion, terminal access to run projects from anywhere and supports Js, Python, Go, HTML and many more languages. There are many such cloud based IDEs to support web development.
#2 Developer mode –
Though developing is possible on Chromebook but to get a robust environment one must install Linux Chroot using Crouton which allows Linux to be run side by side with Chrome OS. Here, you can perform everyday tasks in Chrome OS and switch to Linux for development. The only issue here will be that your hardware will be limited in power.
Though on a Chromebook you cannot run heavy IDEs or multiple VMs, you still can do plenty of developments especially web development.
There is a huge scope to development on cloud; we just need to adapt the way it works unless you have a spare machine to work on.
Chromebook does not support direct installation of software but you can definitely install a Linux Distro i.e. it can be used only if the required software has a Linux version which includes Skype.
If still things are not your way there is an option of using Chrome Remote Desktop to access traditional operating system
Cloud IDEs provide developers with a prepackaged environment which is ready to code and thus reduce the start up time.
The web developers can actually code within seconds of starting the system with no thrashing and non-blocking IDE. Though it seems that the developer is using a single machine but he/she actually accesses dozens of nodes to perform each task optimally and saves all the configuration time.
Presently a list of resources is available for free and some for a price. The greatest advantage of using a cloud development environment is that it has the ability to be wherever you are. And of course it is lightweight, portable and cheap, so developers looking for a low budget optimum device should go for Chromebook and with time it would provide developers with a boundless development experience.