An inside look at what GitLab’s web IDE has to offer developers

Gitlab is reinventing its Web IDE to better support remote development in cloud-based environments.

The new Web IDE became publicly available in beta last month and is already enabled by default He said that it had received positive and significant feedback less than a month after its release Eric Shorterthe lead product manager for creation at GitLab.

“One of the reasons we chose the open beta approach is because we wanted the community to help us understand which features are most important to address immediately,” Shorter told The New Stack. “We have already received very valuable feedback and have implemented some improvements.”

New features are already planned

Based on user feedback, Gitlab plans to iterate on the commit and code review experiments, and add some more interesting features, such as the ability to install and run third-party extensions in Web IDE and search the entire project.

The previous Web IDE was based on open source Monaco Editorbut the code was not compiled and was not customizable according to the developer’s workflow, Jet Lab V said Announcing the trial version. Shorter said the new web development environment is built on the Visual Studio Open Source project and is designed to meet developers wherever they are.

visual studio code is one of the most popular IDEs and provides a familiar browser experience, right within the GitLab UI, which means developers can be more productive and more confident in making changes, without spending time switching contexts in their local development environment,” he said.

The Web IDE also builds on what VS Code offers, adding (for example) custom extensions that handle tracking changes to the file system, and committing those changes to the repository using GitLab APIHe told The New Stack, establishing a connection to a remote development environment.

“We’re excited to take advantage of the benefits of recurring initial contributions, contributing to the project whenever possible, and implementing GitLab-specific functionality as needed,” he said.

More cloud development support in the IDE

Cloud development – or as GitLab calls it, remote development – is the main focus of the Beta Web IDE. Shorter said developers spend hours managing and updating their local dependencies or reinstalling package managers to troubleshoot conflicts. He added that larger teams can spend days, sometimes even weeks, onboarding new developers for a project.

“By defining a stable and repeatable development environment in code, developers will be able to create ephemeral instances of these environments in the cloud and will be ready to contribute from a web IDE or on-premises IDE in a matter of minutes,” he said. There are other offerings with similar functionality, but the real benefit is that they are contained and managed entirely within a single GitLab. DevSecOps platform. “

GitLab Beta team members are using the Web IDE to update their GitLab Handbooksaid Michael Friedrich, Senior Evangelist Developer at GitLab.

“I’m excited about the direction with remote development to ensure everyone can contribute,” Friedrich said. “This will solve the limitations of local hardware and provisioning of the development environment, and make open source teams and contributors more efficient.”

Developer experience

He gave an overview of the developer experience, saying that the Web IDE is integrated into the GitLab DevSecOps platform and can be accessed directly from common workflows: start a new project, edit an existing file, or open the IDE from a merge request to process review feedback.

“The Web IDE File Explorer provides access to all files in the repository for making changes, with intelligent autocomplete suggestions and syntax highlighting,” he said. Once the changes are committed to a new branch, a new merge request can be created. The merge request will be triggered CI/CD pipelinesSecurity checks, review of application deployments, and observation ability to get quick feedback in a file DevSecOps Lifecycle. “

Added that Markdown preview comes with it, which can help with documentation.

Front-end and web developers should know, Friedrich said, that they can quickly make changes to the web application’s source code and deploy them using merge request, with feedback in review applications, or they can use continuous delivery with production changes. the CI/CD pipelines run automatically After the changes persist in the Web IDE. He added that developers can initiate a live preview using a development web server from the device when remote development environments are available with on-demand cloud development environments.

Features for seasoned and new developers

Advanced users can benefit from the Web IDE’s extensibility, Friedrich said, adding that in the future, users will be able to install VS Code extensions in the Web IDE for a more customizable experience.

Another planned feature that Friedrich said will benefit developers and DevOps engineers: The Jet Lab Workflow extension for VS Code natively in the browser with direct comments on the CI/CD pipeline. However, the IDE’s lightweight style, highlighting of the language’s syntax, file tree access, and search make it a great choice for beginners, according to Friedrich. In fact, Gitlab had the non-developer in mind when developing the new IDE, Shorter said.

“We’re interested in making this developer experience more accessible to non-developers,” said Shorter. “By making the Web IDE available to everyone, at all times, with no installation or configuration required, we hope to make it easier for everyone to contribute.”

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