What we will see is web-based advances in specific IDE use cases, ranging from code editors for DevOps to GUI builders for mobile, with most developers staying within the comfort and native UI of their desktop IDE. Apart from the OS, the IDE may now be the most complex piece of software running on your desktop computer. Eclipse pushes the limits of the UI element handling of the desktop OS as well as the classloader model of common JVMs. What makes an IDE platform even harder to port into the browser is the need for extensibility, ranging from interaction with the filesystem to shared data models of the large variety of code and ALM artefacts that constitute an application.
Just as mobile applications are constantly pushing the limits of the hardware behind our 3.5 handheld screens, the IDE tool suite continues to push the limits of the hardware driving dual 24 displays. Third party plug-in developers need to be very aware of the performance of their extensions to Eclipse so that they dont bring an Intel Core i7 CPU with 8GB of RAM to a crawl.
The data accessed by the open source developer, including source code, tasks and builds, is already cloud hosted. Eclipse extensions like Tasktop Dev Enterprise mash up the web browser experience with the rich IDE experience. The professional IDE will start feeling more like a connected and offline capable Mozilla Thunderbird or Microsoft Outlook, with collaboration and planning facilities taking a front seat alongside social coding tools. Just as iOS has found the sweet spot between native experience and web service-based data sources, so will the IDE. Outside of enterprise application development, domains where a simplified tool stack is applicable will start seeing web-based IDE features.
On the cloud hosting front, key parts of ALM data such as source code, builds and tasks, are already starting to be hosted in a unified manner, as exemplified by the upcoming Code2Cloud offering. Some stakeholders in the development process, such as DevOps and QA engineers, will start to benefit from Eclipse Orion-style code editors accessing and fixing entries in Spring config files without launching the IDE. This will lead to easier management of production since the need for console access for these sorts of tweaks will be removed.
Looking further out, the increasingly connected IDE will have all of its configuration data hosted, making the experience of the first launch of Eclipse similar to that of the first launch Skype, where entering credentials causes the rich client to instantly provision the users desktop. The division of labour between web and desktop based access of software artefacts will improve, with some content that was previously browser-bound, such as Scrum task boards, being supported within the IDE. The mobile hobbyist, casual web developer, and specific stakeholders such as the DevOps engineer, will see nearer term benefits from the growing convergence of the browser and the IDE.