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Sunday, October 11, 2009

Introducing CodePad-- An Online Programming Compiler

I love to do my work on the cloud, and I am shifting as much work as I can, to the cloud. I've stopped using Microsoft Office, in favor of Google Docs. For my personal accounting use, I eschew big desktop package such as Intuit, in favor of lightweight an online alternative, Buxfer. Instead of using FTPs to upload and manage the files onto my web host, I prefer to log into cPanel and make the necessary changes. Storing and working with my data on the web applications give me the flexibility to access them from anywhere, at anytime. Having been bitten by hardware failure more than once, the idea that you would never ever lost your data because they are all stored and backup elsewhere is something I can't resist.

But it seems that compilers and debugging environment don't keep up with this trend. I don't expect to be able to compile my C# code online; there is no online version of Visual Studio, either. Similarly, to write and debug PHP requires one to setup a dedicated environment with all the Apache and MySQL installed and configured. That's all well until your hardware blows up on you and you are struggling to find the backup and get back your environment.

It is in this light that I am thrilled to find CodePad. CodePad is an online interpreter or compiler.  Note the italic word, online. Which means you can type it your code, and presto! The code just runs!

CodePad, admittedly, is not suitable for serious development work. But it's fun to play with, and it's a quick ground for us to check and share our code, our ideas. The fact that we can get our code online and make it runs still get me excited. It might a sign that finally we are moving in the direction of "cloud programming".

To the SOers, CodePad is an invaluable tool for you to answer and verify your response quickly, especially if you are hunting on easy questions where there are hundreds of people who also know the answer.  If you can type in the code from memory and verify it without firing up your debugger, you stand a better chance of getting the answers upvoted and accepted.

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