# Contents

For years, developers have been tantalized by the dream of coding entirely through their web browser—no more installing bulky programs or configuring local environments. Just open your online IDE and start programming from anywhere, on any device. Major players like Google and Amazon poured millions into making this vision a reality.

But the much-hyped promise of cloud IDEs has largely failed to materialize. While they've found niche uses, developers overwhelmingly still prefer native desktop tools. As an industry veteran who built some of the first browser-based coding tools back in 2009, I've watched the cloud IDE hype cycle unfold firsthand. From my vantage point today, in 2024, I can definitively say the sun is setting on the dream of cloud-based integrated development environments.

Don't get me wrong - remote development capabilities still have an important role to play. However, trying to force the entire coding experience into a web browser is a fool's errand. The cloud IDE model does not align with what most professional developers need and want in their daily workflows.

What Developers Want

To understand why cloud IDEs miss the mark, you have to consider the developer's perspective. What do coders care about most when choosing tools and environments? From my experience, three key factors rise above all else:

  1. Speed and performance

  2. Customizability and flexibility

  3. Integration with existing tools

Let's explore why these factors present major challenges for the browser-centric approach of cloud IDEs.

First and foremost, developers cherish speed and native performance. They want fluid UI interactions and near-instantaneous feedback when editing code. Even small lags quickly become intolerable frustrations. Unfortunately, browser-based apps still cannot match the raw speed of compiled native programs.

Next, developers demand deep customizability to optimize their workflows. They want to configure fonts, themes, keyboard shortcuts, and layouts. They want to install plugins and extensions that add new capabilities freely. Browser IDEs restrict them to built-in options.

Finally, developers rely on tight integration with other indispensable tools like version control, debuggers, package managers, and more. They expect seamless interoperability. Again, the closed ecosystems of current cloud IDEs make this difficult.

Paradise Lost

Cloud Development Environment providers promise developers paradise - a utopian coding environment accessible anywhere through the web. But in reaching for heaven, they abandon the practical realities of what developers need to do their jobs effectively each day. By forcing everything through the browser, they create a walled garden that strips away the flexibility and power that programmers have come to depend on in their local toolchains.

This false paradise comes at an unacceptable cost for professional developers building and maintaining complex applications. The lure of "one IDE to rule them all" makes for a nice headline, but utterly fails the test of real-world developer experience.

Rebirth From Failure

As we move beyond the limitations of cloud IDEs, it's clear that a new approach is necessary—one that builds on the lessons learned from past failures. Seve Kim's insight captures this transition beautifully:

Newer developer tools present a paradigm shift that solves all the existing problems current tools present. However, these new paradigms seem to be designed in a vacuum and lack a bridge from the old world. Interoperability is table stakes. We need to meet developers where they are today.

Seve Kim, Spotify, Backstage PM

This perspective underscores the importance of not just innovating for the sake of novelty, but ensuring that new tools seamlessly integrate with existing workflows and technologies. The future lies not in discarding the old completely, but in creating a symbiotic relationship between the tried-and-true and the cutting-edge.

Does this mean the vision of remote development is dead? Not at all. The CDE hype cycle produced important lessons that can guide smarter tools in the future. The way forward recognizes that the browser is better positioned as one piece of the environment rather than the whole.

Instead of replacing all developer tools with a web-only IDE, the future lies in building desktop-native performance and flexibility augmented by cloud capabilities. Open ecosystems and community extensibility will also be critical, avoiding the walled-garden limitations of proprietary cloud IDEs. VS Code combined with a DEM platform like Daytona, enhanced by integrations for collaboration and AI assistance, exemplifies this new direction. It's about augmenting, not replacing, the tools developers already rely on.

The popularity of emerging tools like Zed show early promise in disbursing this cloud bubble. By focusing first on high-performance native editing, Zed's creators are charting a path beyond the cloud IDEs. Will native tools supported by platforms like Daytona finally unlock the long-awaited dream of remote development done right? We certainly believe so.

The CDE hype cycle produced more smoke than fire. But from the ashes, space now exists for a rebirth guided by lessons learned. The browser will play an important assisting role, while leaving the coding experience centered firmly on the desktop.

By upholding the principles developers truly care about - performance, customizability, and integration - the next generation of tools can avoid repeating mistakes. The CDE dream may have died, but developers are poised for something better today.

  • cloudIDE
  • cde