cloud9 logoIf you are learning web development, Cloud9 offers free and low-cost cloud based environment that provides everything you need to get started.

Every now and then, I’m impressed. I’m not sure how I’ve never heard of this before, but Cloud9 is pretty amazing. This online integrated development environment supports the following languages: C#, C/C++, Clojure, CoffeeScript, ColdFusion, CSS, Groovy, Java, JavaScript, LaTeX, Lua, Markdown, OCaml, PHP, Perl, PowerShell, Python, Ruby, Scala, SCSS, SQL, Textile, X(HTML), XML.  When creating a new project, you can import code from Git, GitHub, Bitbucket or Mercurial.  You can also deploy your projects to Heroku, Joyent, Openshift, Windows Azure, or Google App Engine.


What amazed me right away about Cloud9 is the fact that it is 100% browser-based. There is no software to install or anything to download. You simply fire-up your browser and get to work. In your browser, you’ll find an IDE, as well as a console window. You can chose from a number of editor themes, so you can do for the “Monokai” look if that is your thing.

cloud9 IDE
Cloud9 IDE

Impressive TemPlates

Creating a new application could not be more simple; you can chose from one of about a dozen templates. These include basic HTML5, Node, Python, C++, PHP/Apache, django, Ruby, WordPress, or a blank Ubuntu Linux image. There is even a template specifically for Harvard’s infamous CS50 course.


Yep. You can configure a database for your application. Cloud9 supports MongoDB, MySQL, CouchDB or Cassandra.  In each case, the setup is slightly more involved than a simple click or two, but overall it’s not too complicated.


It’s very cool that they have a free tier. Not only can you kick the tires, but for students, it’s a no-brainer.  You get one private workspace, and then the rest are public. The “Individual” plan is $19 per month. This is not a bad deal at all as you get three “Hot Workspaces” (i.e. they don’t spin-down due to inactivity), unlimited private workspaces, and increased performance. There is a “Teams” plan which is even more robust as well. If you are a full-time student or represent a school, look into their “Education” plan, which will run you a whopping $1 per month. Amazing.


While services like Heroku, Cloud Foundry, Dokku, Deis, Flynn all make it easy to spin-up various kinds of web-based stacks, Cloud9 makes it even easier. One of the really key aspects of this is the 100% online approach. You do everything in the browser; create files, edit files, deploy your code, even run terminal commands. For serious / production PAAS, I’d go with AWS, but for learning, quick testing, or prototyping, I highly recommend taking a look at Cloud9.