Common Lisp, Development, LISP

Hacking Lisp in the Cloud, Part 2

This morning I got access to the new Cloud9 IDE beta—and I have to say… WOW. It’s slicker, it’s faster, it’s more stable, auto-complete recognizes Lisp definition forms from your open workspace files such as defun and defmacro, and most importantly, it only takes seconds to get your workspace set up with RLWRAP, SBCL and Quicklisp.

The new Cloud9 IDE is running on an Ubuntu backend workspace. Cloud9 has had terminal access to your project workspace for quite some time now, but I’ve found the terminal experience to be significantly smoother in the new beta. It stays connected now, no longer timing-out on you when switching tabs or stepping away from the computer for a minute. Users can also use sudo for root access, and as a result install any debian package from apt (amongst many other things, of course). Emacs 24 is already installed by default. I suspect that SSH tunneling to a remote SWANK server from the Cloud9 workspace is also now possible.

The Collaboration tools seem to be more streamlined. Workspace Members, Notifications, and Group Chat all appear together in one panel. I expect, with all the other improvements in the beta, that collaborative editing of your workspace files is likewise improved.

There’s a new Outline panel that lists the symbol-names of your top-level definition forms for the current active view—yes, even for Lisp. You can select a symbol-name and jump right to its definition in the file. Also, this functionality appears to be integrated with auto-complete, allowing you to jump to a definition of a function, macro, or variable from the auto-complete list as you type.

An interesting set of features I have not yet tried, is the custom Run/Build configurations. These features appear to allow you to write custom Run/Build scripts for arbitrary programming languages, so you should now be able to integrate Lisp into the IDE better, and write/test/debug/deploy your Lisp applications for the most part automatically.

One step closer to my hopes stated in my previous post on Cloud9 IDE from January, the Cloud9 IDE beta includes a JavaScript REPL. Combined with all the other helpful tools that they’ve included to support Lisp cloud development, it seems reasonable to suppose that a full REPL plugin is in the works.

I’ve barely scratched the surface here—there are so many new features to try out, I’ll probably be discovering new things every day for the next week. And to think, this is just the Beta! If you do your part and show your support for Cloud9 as a Lisp Hacker, I’m quite certain that the next full version of Cloud9 IDE will include everything we need to Hack on Lisp seamlessly in the Cloud.

If you want to get beta access to the new Cloud9 IDE yourself, all you have to do is follow the instructions on their blog post. If your Cloud9 username is different from your Twitter handle, you may need to provide that to them as well to get Beta access.

As always, Happy Hacking!

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