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The Number of Chromebook Developers Is Growing Fast

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Developer Tools

The number of developers using Chromebooks to code is on the rise.

Tracking metrics gathered by Codenvy show an 82% increase in the number of developers using a cloud-centric notebook to access their web-based development suite in the past year.

Codeenvy is a popular web-based development environment for the coding and debugging apps through any web browser, on virtually any operating system.

Since the service exists solely online it doesn’t matter what a developer uses to access it – they can work from an Acer C200 on the couch or a $1000+ Pixel in a busy software house.

But although an 82% increase sounds impressive it does not paint the whole picture.

Codenvy — who claim to be “revolutionizing how software is developed” — has not shared the amount of time that developers spend using the service on a Chromebook, nor whether these are new vs returning users or whether the same developers also use other operating systems.

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Not vital information to show an uptick in Chromebook usage, granted. But it would help qualify the impact that Chromebooks are having in the development landscape (even if it is only for this one specific service).

For example, there’s a difference in ‘impact’ if developers simply ‘check in’ on a project using a Chromebook versus actively and consistently using it regularly.

And, despite the rise, Chromebooks are only used by less than 5% of Codeenvy’s user base.

With the mothballing of Google’s Polymer/Dart-based editor packaged app tools like Codeenvy will only gain in popularity for those developers who are willing to try and make Chromebooks a key part of their development workflow.

The post was published back in March but recently surfaced on Reddit (shared by Codenvy). It’s an interesting glimpse but, shocker: cloud-based development tool uncovers cloud-based users are using their cloud-based service.

But those who are able to rise above the cynicism of that fact will soak in the nuance of this: Codenvy is not just used by Chromebook users. Codenvy’s metrics for the early part of 2015 peg the total number of Chromebook users using the service at 4.42%.

By comparison that makes the 82% increase sound weaker but, as Codeenvy point out: “Given our overall growth in active users, the increased percentage of Chromebook users is on a much larger base for 2015 […] they are taking usage share overall.”

“This data tells us that developers genuinely want the freedom that comes from developer work spaces in the cloud,” they conclude.

“Just as consumers are ditching TV cable for streaming services, developers are increasingly interested in using the cloud to allow them to develop on any project from any machine.”

It will be interesting to revisit these findings in a year’s time. 

  • Brad Micklea

    Thank you for the detailed response to our post Joey-Elijah.

    One thing to note is Codenvy isn’t only a hosted SaaS solution – we also have teams and enterprises using our On-Prem version installed either in a private cloud they own, or in their own datacenter. So our audience isn’t a “cloud-only” development group. Plus, we’ve tried to be very up-front with our data so hopefully we don’t garner too much cynicism for our post.

    To answer your question on the ‘impact’ of Chromebook development with some qualitative data – from talking to a lot of our customers I know that many use Codenvy from their Chromebook at home or on the road. So it’s being used for real work, but most often not as the primary development device (although I don’t think that diminishes in any way the value of a Chromebook).

    Where we do see Chromebooks used primarily are by students and schools for courseware. It’s a lot easier and cheaper to setup a lab for a computer science class with Chromebooks and Codenvy than have to provide expensive desktops and local tools.

    What I find most interesting (and again this comes from conversations with our customers) is the excitement of developers using Codenvy + Chromebooks for developing Java and C++ projects. There’s a sense of being free from their laptops/desktops that’s quite infectious. It’s a little different perhaps than those who work on Javascript, PHP, Python and other web development languages who have had these options to a degree in the past.

    Brad
    (Disclaimer – I work for Codenvy)

  • Marc

    Still waiting for Android Studio to work natively with Chrome OS.

    • fahadayaz

      We have Android apps working on Chromebooks now, using Dalvik, with pretty good performance. Studio would require bringing over the Java platform – that’s not going to happen.

      We can dream though. ?

      • Leon Labarrie

        No

        • Elliot

          Well… Google could officially or unofficially port it.

  • pixelstuff

    Too bad we don’t know if the 4.42% is around 40 users, 400 users, 4,000 users or even more than that.

  • Michael Waara

    Another thing to note is that this is just Codenvy! I partitioned my Acer C720 in order to dual-boot with Ubuntu. It works great as a development platform for me.

    • Kiera Linus

      How do you run Ubuntu and Chrome on a c720P ?

      • Degru

        Look up Crouton. There’s even a way to get Ubuntu to run in a window inside ChromeOS (all natively of course) so you don’t have to switch between either one or the other.

        It does add the inconvenience of having to dismiss the developer screen at boot, and the risk of wiping out your entire install if you do the wrong thing at said developer screen.

  • Elliot

    I have definitely done a significant amount of code on my samsung chromebook.

  • Degru

    What they have to realize is that they’re not just developing for Chromebooks, they’re also developing for all the Chrome users out there as well.

    • Not just for Chrome, but for the web, Android, iOS… anything in general!

      The stats gathered are about developers using Chromebooks as opposed to developers targeting Chromebooks.

      • Degru

        Ah, didn’t quite read the article right :)

        It’s good to see developers using Chromebooks more. If anything, it means that they will more often be targeting the lowest common denominator and optimizing their websites and apps to run on slower Celeron and Atom processors like the ones found in Chromebooks and cheap Windows tablets/laptops. This would benefit high-end users as well, with web apps reaching native app performance.

  • Ryan_Hayden

    I’ve moved all of my web development off of my Mac Desktop and into Koding. Which I use both on my Toshiba Chromebook 2 and my Mac Mini. I love it. It’s the first testing server solution I’ve used that really worked with multiple computers.