Take Your Code With You Using CodeAnywhere

Did I get geekier over the years or did coding just become mainstream? With so many youngsters online, it was foreseeable that a great share was peeking beneath the surface of the web at those huge walls of code. Using recent services, such as GitHub and StackOverflow, it has never been so easy to solve doubts and receive feedback. Communities became larger as new users flew into the adventure of creating code to call their own instead of relying on WordPress themes.

We still needed a tool to put all this learning to work — a truly universal service we could carry anywhere regardless of the inclemencies. That’s where CodeAnywhere stands out, offering the versatility of a web service and native alternatives to every mobile platform imaginable (there’s even a BlackBerry app!), without ever waiving the great features you’ll find out in this review.

Overview

After creating an account, you’re greeted without many frills to the latest updates of the service and a slideshow with a few of the available features. Some resources are available directly from the sidebar, like integration with FTP, SFTP (Premium), GitHub and Dropbox. The latter is not only terrific for bloggers using Scriptogr.am or aother Dropbox-based CMS, but also to anyone who have replaced pen drives with cloud synchronization.

Integration with GitHub and Dropbox plus support for plenty of languages.

Integration with GitHub and Dropbox plus support for plenty of languages.

The navigation bar on the top of the screen will give you most of the options to create new documents and interact with your whole code. A panel shows up as you create a new file with every supported language, going from plain text to C++. Pick one and it collapses to a tab bar where you can also select an encoding or play with the settings.

The First Lines of Code

One of the coolest features of CodeAnywhere is that you don’t need a Dropbox or GitHub account, nor do you need your own server to start writing. You can store your documents within the Sandbox. Free users receive 1 MB of storage, while premium subscribers get 500 MB plus a few more extra perks. The Sandbox is supposed to help users test their code directly from CodeAnywhere, but it felt confusing and saved files would often disappear or only be accessible through search.

File management could definitely be more intuitive.

File management could definitely be more intuitive.

The tricks behind Sandbox therefore had to be uncovered. Whenever you save a file in the Sandbox, you’ll get a path as the file name automatically. Don’t erase it — type the name with its extension after the last ‘/’. The sidebar won’t update automatically — at least not instantly — and most of the time you’ll have to sign out and in again in order to see your recently saved file in the sidebar. The CodeAnywhere team is already working to make the Sandbox more pleasant and intuitive.

As you type your first lines of code, CodeAnywhere suggests tags according to the language you selected previously. If the tag requires closing, the end tag is created and your cursor is moved to between them both. This simple action exposes several basic requirements for a good code editor, such as smart indentation, and keeps your code clean and readable.

The Wall of Code

The deeper you go, the more noticeable will be the syntax highlighting provided by CodeAnywhere, which can be completely customized or changed between the three themes available. To keep your code compact and focused, you can then fold elements by clicking on the arrow next to the line number or fold everything from the View menu.

CodeAnywhere also supports unlimited undo/redo and has great find/replace tools.

CodeAnywhere also supports unlimited undo/redo and has great find/replace tools.

Considering that you’re writing a basic HTML page to test the features, maybe it is time to scratch your CSS stylesheet. CodeAnywhere supports unlimited tabs, so you can just create a new file and start writing with your previous document as a reference; store everything under the same path at your Sandbox and hey presto, you’ve just created an easy way to keep your website integrated. Whenever you want to see the outcome on the web, hit Browse to open a new window with your web page.

While editing your CSS, you’ll notice an extra option named Beautify. Check it out.

There are at least two more features that make CodeAnywhere an extraordinary tool for developers. The first is a saved history of your versions, so you can compare your actual document with a previous version or revert to it. This is an essential feature, complementing the other cool resource CodeAnywhere offers: sharing.

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Just right-click on any of your items and choose Share  you’ll get a panel where you can create an alias for the document, add a comment, change permissions or set an expiration date for the invitation you send through email to your workmate. You can be notified after every saved change from your buddy or you can just use the aforementioned revision mode to check what they’ve been messing up with your code.

Wrapping Up Your Code

As we cross the myriad of features CodeAnywhere has to offer, it is easy to forget the pleasant experience it brings to developers, extending its range of tools for the web to many other languages, such as Ruby and Python. Despite the cumbersome file management, CodeAnywhere proves itself, day after day, as an impeccable tool to write snippets and develop web projects. If you’re an avid Sublime Text user, it may lack a few features, however, its core won’t let you down.


Summary

Codeanywhere is a code editor in a browser with an integrated ftp client, and all popular web formats are supported (HTML, PHP, JavaScript, CSS, and XML).

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