Our increasing dependency on cloud services to save all our data, photos, and documents in the cloud has created a whole new approach to personal and business printing.
Several years ago you’d carry a portable printer for your laptop. Web-based apps and services in the cloud present a problem for real-world printing needs. Enter the hero; cloud printing. It would appear the cloud is going to save us all from our collective grounded existence.
Cloud printing, as defined today, connects your device or desktop computer to a web-based print application to a printer via the Internet. This isn’t the only definition of cloud printing, as you can imagine. The confusion over the usage of the term cloud is well-documented. Commercial print providers are already adopting the term to describe web-based document management and procurement systems. Companies like Hubcast are perpetuating the misnomer.
Google’s Cloud Print was originally developed to provide an easy way for Chromebook owners to print from any location from the Chrome web browser. Cloud printing eliminates the need for specific print drivers for each printer and operating system. Google wasn’t the first company to delve into cloud printing. HP developed a line of Internet-ready printers, called eprinters, several years ago with a similar concept in mind. These eprinters connect to your home computer allowing you to print from anywhere just by sending email to your printer. There’s an HP YouTube video of a happy baby running full speed down the real highway to make to grandma and grandpa’s printer from mom’s camera meant to help explain the eprint technology. HP has expanded the eprinter concept into a web-based print service that includes Google’s Cloud Print.
Google says this about current trends in printing and web-based apps “We observe two significant trends in computing today, the shift towards web/cloud-based applications and the proliferation of web-connected mobile devices. As these web apps and mobile devices have become more capable, users are expecting the same capabilities from them that they have on their PCs, and printing is near the top of that.”
Cloud printing is still an emerging market without common standards. Cortado‘s Cloud Printing Alliance seeks to change that by partnering with manufacturers of printers, mobile devices, wireless routers to provide any device printing from any location. Cortado is a cloud workspace service provider offering secure storage, collaboration, printing, and more from any desktop or mobile device. An excerpt from an IDC analysis of cloud printing and its current adoption rate, includes this quote from Dinesh Srirangpatna of Hardcopy Peripherals: Software and Services, “Customers are educated about the mobile print value proposition and are increasingly engaging with providers. On the technology adoption curve, mobile printing has moved from innovators to early adopters. Lack of standardization is a barrier for adoption by early majority.”
FedEx has taken advantage of The Internet of Things by providing cloud printing services in-store from a Kiosk. Printing from Dropbox, Google Docs, and Box have been available at FedEx since 2011. I believe the FedEx model, in part, is the future of Cloud Printing. Equipment standards will contribute to mainstream adoption. Until then, you can build your Google Cloud development skills. Google provides code samples, detailed documentation, and API reference at https://developers.google.com/cloud-print/docs/overview. The opportunities for developers will be many as cloud printing matures. Do you already take advantage of cloud printing?
Developers do not readily envision the Chromebook as a development machine. Rather, the Chromebook is seen as a neat idea for anyone but developers. Early this month, Google Developers Live hosted a session with the founders of the cloud-based IDE Codeenvy. The Codeenvy team saw the Chromebook Pixel as the perfect device for it’s cloud IDE. Rather than focusing on all the ways a Chromebook isn’t like other laptops, they pictured a perfect development environment. Writers can easily work from a Chromebook even when their work requires the use of a proprietary file type like Microsoft Word (yes, that’s still a requirement for some publications).
In this hour long presentation hosted by Louis Gray, Codeenvy founders Tyler Jewell and Stevan Le Meur walked developers through their cloud-based IDE. Codeenvy is more than an online code editor, it gives developers a complete build environment capable of compiling, testing, packaging, debugging, and even deployment. In addition to all these features, Codeenvy allows you to clone your entire work space to share elsewhere should you need assistance or to reuse on another project. Workspaces are created based on the language and PaaS support you choose.
Codeenvy supports a variety of popular languages, frameworks, and PaaS platforms.
Amazon Web Services (AWS)
Google App Engine
I agree with Gray’s assessment of the future of cloud development tools like Codeenvy. Cloud-based development will become as normal an expected as the desktop environment thus far. The addition of Android framework support gives the powerful platform an edge over other, newer browser-based Android development environments. The Codeenvy product itself is mature with at least 4 years in production since its inception.
As we move more daily tasks into the cloud we must also be thinking of solutions to the Last Mile problem. Cloud services can only be good if you can actually use them from anywhere. I hope to see both a full functional Android development kit in the cloud and the broadband problem solved in the near future.
Last month, Bitbucket announced a new cloud code editor for its users. No longer do small (or large) changes require making changes locally then committing those changes. Now you can easily edit code onscreen from nearly any browser.
The online editor comes complete with a proper code editor display. It sports line numbers, automatic syntax highlighting, indentation, and a handy diff tool. Change commits and reviewers can also be done right from the browser.
If you have never worked with Bitbucket before, you’ll need to create an account and read the getting started tutorials. Bitbucket doesn’t support the creation of new files so you’ll need to create a repository and commit your first project files before you can edit in the cloud. You can choose Git or Mercurial for your repository.
Github do not include a cloud-based editor. However, project code can be edited with another cloud-based editor like Cloud9 or Codeenvy. We’re already seeing an increase in available online code editors. This is evidence of a coming revolution from the desktop IDE on the horizon.
Do you know of other cloud-based editors available with project hosting services like Github? What do you think of the cloud-based IDE revolution? Do you see a future for code editing right from the browser? Will the desktop IDE market thrive if users choose the cloud instead? Let me know what you think in the comments below.
Our desire for instant gratification presents itself in many areas of our lives. Now you can deploy an entire virtual private server in under a minute. Digital Ocean wants to make a splash in the VPS hosting market. They offer solid state drives (SSDs), one-click server deploy, and flexible billing. Digital Ocean defines their cloud hosting service as “a method of configuring servers in a flexible way to allow for the most affordable, scalable, and reliable web infrastructure.”
Offering simple, fast, and flexible options is always better than serving up complexity. Digital Ocean promises low pricing that starts at a reasonable $5 per month (a common charge for economy shared hosting). Account set up is very fast. You’ll be registered and choosing your server and applications within two minutes. After setting up either a recurring payment method or one-time Paypal payment your instance can be created within 55 seconds. Ruby on Rails, WordPress, and LAMP are available as one click installs.
Available Operating Systems
Clone your favorite settings with ease. Additional Droplets (servers) can be created quickly from Snapshots of your existing instances or from full backups.
Plans priced at $5 per month will get you root access, 512MB of memory, 20GB of storage space, and 1TB of transfer. There are no contracts or long-term commitments. Scaling for price and capacity is available from your account dashboard. Every plan comes complete with their fast response support team. My first ticket was answered within 30 minutes. This response time may not be typical.
Since I’m looking for a new host for my long-neglected WordPress site I asked about features available to WordPress sites. Digital Ocean does not provide managed hosting options for WordPress, they are just the web host. Since I have managed a number of WordPress sites for many years I don’t want to continue with mundane manual updating of the core or plugins. I’ve also grown tired of securing all those sites. I need a managed WordPress host so Digital Ocean isn’t right for me but it might be right for you.
I enjoy reading great documentation and using simple interfaces like the dashboard Digital Ocean has created. This company offers a clean user interface and fairly clear options for developers. If you’ve used Digital Ocean I would like to read about your experiences with the company. Let me know what you think in the comments section below.
The future of gaming is now and it’s only available on Google Chrome, not Microsoft Internet Explorer, not Mozilla Firefox. In my last post, I wrote about combining multiple Google Cloud Platform services to create scalable cross-platform games. Google is not only betting on the future of cloud based games, they are creating all the pieces to make it so.
This demo presented at Google I/O earlier this month illustrates the ease of play across devices. Even casual games like the one featured can quickly become popular because everyone can play no matter what App Store they typically use. There are no device-specific quirks or bugs to work through. The dream that is develop once, deploy everywhere becomes reality for developers creating games for Google Chrome.
Mobile games from the web, complete with stunning 3D graphics, is now possible with WebGL and Google Compute Engine. Device agnostic games played on Internet-connected mobile devices will be the the new trend in gaming.
Mobile devices connected to a single App Store were once thought to be the future of the web. Google Chrome games across devices proves the mobile web will not continue to be defined by device screen size and App Store access.
Google Cloud Platform opened for all during Google I/O earlier this month. With this grand opening came a detailed look at game development and deloployment on Google’s Cloud Platform.
The I/O session entitled Intense Gaming covered the many uses of its services as well as success stories from game developers. The start of session includes a breakdown of Google Cloud Platform services. Google’s suite of cloud services enables cross-platform, realtime activity that is easy to deploy and scale. It’s an impressive look a the technologies Google is built upon.
Game developers are already leveraging App Engine, Big Query, and Compute Engine. The innovation is impressive.
Chances are good many readers didn’t have the opportunity to attend this talk at Google I/O. If you were unable to attend this session you should take some time (49 minutes) to watch the archive. This is an excellent introduction to Google Cloud Platform and its many uses. As you watch you may find yourself imagining new games for the purpose of using this suite of tools.
For a more detailed look at game development you can watch Google sessions from the 2013 Game Developers Conference: Learn How to Build Games.
If you’ve developed a game with Google Cloud Platform tools I would love to read about it in the comments section below.
Google I/O brought many welcome announcements for developers earlier this month. I’ll be covering some of the updates in Google’s Cloud Platform here. Today, I would like to introduce you to a much-anticipated (at least by me) addition to the platform – PHP.
PHP developers can enjoy the deploy now that the Google Cloud Platform has added PHP support. With this new addition you can run PHP applications at scale. Deployment is just one click away. Development and testing can be done from your local machine. Google is providing a PHP development server is available for use on your computer. This environment simulates the App Engine environment. This is especially helpful since not all PHP modules are supported. Some must be enabled manually.
PHP is available in limited preview for existing Google App Engine applications. Requesting access is as simple as signing in with your Google Account and answering a few questions. If you don’t already have an App Engine account, you’ll need to sign up and create an app in the dashboard. Once you have an app you can request PHP access for it. Requests are currently reviewed before access is granted. The site gives no detail on the expected wait time. Use the provided comment box to tell reviewers your plans for PHP access.
Have you used the limited preview yet? How does it compare to other cloud services like AWS? How would you rank the Google Cloud Platform dashboards against competitors? Does design matter? Tell me in the comments below.
VMWare has created a platform called CloudCred to both advertise its products and give IT professionals an opportunity to learn more about cloud computing while earning points for real life prizes. After registering, players can earn individual and team points for completing tasks. Tasks are grouped by type and can be sorted by point value.
Teams are auto assigned by the system but you can choose another or create your own team anytime after registration. It’s important to join or start a good team since some tasks are designated for teams. If your company doesn’t already have a team, you can join mine if you like: tiny cloud crew. Commenting on a tech blog (like this one) gains CloudCred points so get started already!
TechTarget has posted a high-value task on CloudCred called Learn more about storage at SAN School. You must be registered and logged in to complete the task and earn 100 points. You might like to learn more about cashing in points for stuff about now. That’s coming up next.
Top earners can have a shot at winning the grand prize trip for two to VMWorld Europe in Barcelona. The trip includes a five night hotel stay and accommodations. However, you don’t have to be the best to get stuff. You can earn a virtual badge at 250 points or a real bumper sticker. T-shirts start at 1,000 points.
You can earn more than stuff and the big prize. You can also be featured on VMWare’s social networks and on their blog. If industry recognition is what you want most, you can earn it on CloudCred.
Managing multiple complex cloud services from multiple providers can quickly become a complex mess for a team. Set up, deployment, collaboration, and monitoring is no small task either. A new class of cloud management services are emerging to support multiple cloud dashboards in one interface.
OpDemand is one of these new monitoring and management services. They created a streamlined, one-click, deployment and monitoring for Amazon Web Services and Heroku. Not only can you monitor and manage multiple apps from a single dashboard, you can also view a real-time audit trail with changes across your different services.
I was most impressed with OpDemand’s simple approach to managing multiple cloud services from one dashboard. They cleverly group like services together and have created a set of tested templates containing popular stack configurations. Test and production environments are easily deployed, cloned, or re-deployed.
Want to use your existing infrastructure, just import it. OpDemand can help an organization transition from an ad hoc management to an integrated solution. The set up guide offers simple step-by-step onscreen instructions.
Languages & Frameworks Supported
Ruby on Rails
OpDemand is an interesting service that simplifies complex cloud service management. Don’t let the simple user interface fool you, OpDemand has a full library of helpful (in-depth) support documents. New and different services need complete documentation to make sense. OpDemand does this well and includes plenty of screenshots.
OpDemand is just one of many integrated cloud monitoring and deployment services to shape the future of the cloud. Have you tried it yourself? I would love to read about your experiences in the comments below.
Version control is a familiar method of keeping up with current files in software development. Software developers who decide to write a book quickly find version control for letters on a page hasn’t quite become commonplace. Developers who write tend to meld a writer’s version of familiar tools into something that works for them.
Larry Ullman recently wrote about his versioning kit for his latest body of work called The Yii Book. He authored an excellent guide to PHP twelve years ago. His list of titles is ever growing with to current total at 22. He found few writers tools that offered the versioning support he needed. Ullman fashioned his own system from mostly Open Source tools already available.
“First, as a developer, I wanted to optimize the process so that it was as efficient as possible. Second, as a reader, I wanted to be able to output the work in as many formats as needed: PDF, epub, mobi (Kindle), HTML, even print.”
Ullman’s ingenious solution lets him write once and publish in multiple formats. However, his system might be a bit more involved for the part time writer blogging on the weekends for multiple publications. There are web-based notebook systems like Evernote available for cross platform access but they generally don’t offer versioning. This is where a simple tool like Draft might be useful.
Draft is a simple writing tool that gives you plenty of room to write, tallies your word count in the bottom corner in real time, and even supports collaborators. Marking major drafts is easily done from an onscreen menu. Side-by-side comparison is just one click away too. Reports on published material show how popular items are on social media platforms. I’ve tried other simple writing platforms like this in the past and most don’t work with mobile browsers like Chrome for iPad. Draft performed well. Menu actions were responsive and functions worked. The service is currently free and appears to be supported by a copy editing service, Ask a Pro, available from the main menu.
Draft is still quite new. It not only helps you track versions of your work but also allows publishing to select services. Twitter, Tumblr, Blogger, and WordPress are supported. There’s also a handy import option available from major providers – Google Drive, Dropbox, Evernote, Box.net, or your computer. Imported documents are synced from Draft to the appropriate place be it from the cloud or your computer. I didn’t try the import and sync service myself but it sounds delightfully perfect for my style of writing across devices and offers real options for the lover of cloud storage services.