Google’s Project IDX Offers Full-Stack Dev in a Web Browser

Google has debuted Project IDX, an AI-enabled development environment for building full-stack web and multiplatform apps. Comparing app development that works across mobile, web, and desktop platforms to “building a Rube Goldberg machine” with a duct-taped tech stack, Google says Project IDX smooths the process of compiling, testing, deploying and monitoring apps. The browser-based Project IDX is built on the Google Cloud using the Codey family of AI foundation models built on PaLM 2. Currently, IDX supports the JavaScript and Dart languages, with plans for Python, Go and more.

TechCrunch says that because Project IDX is built on Code OSS, the open source version of Microsoft’s Visual Studio Code, it offers the advantage of feeling “familiar no matter what you’re building.” That shortcut meant Google didn’t have to build a new IDE (integrated development environment) from scratch with IDX.

“This surely allowed the team to focus on the integration with Codey, Google’s PaLM 2–based foundation model for programming tasks,” writes TechCrunch, noting that “thanks to Codey, IDX supports smart code completion, a ChatGPT/Bard-like chatbot that can help developers with general coding questions as well as those related specifically to the code you are working on (including the ability to explain it) and the ability to add contextual code actions like ‘add comments.’”

“With Project IDX, we’re exploring how Google’s innovations in AI — including the Codey and PaLM 2 models powering Studio Bot in Android Studio, Duet in Google Cloud and more — can help you not only write code faster, but also write higher-quality code,” Google explains in a blog post.

As a cloud-based IDE, Project IDX integrates with Google Cloud Functions, including Firebase development hosting, and allows developers to import existing code from GitHub.

“Every workspace has access to a Linux-based VM (virtual machine) and, soon, embedded Android and iOS simulators right in the browser,” reports TechCrunch, which offers a brief IDX review.

While GitHub’s Copilot from Microsoft and Amazon’s CodeWhisperer, as well as others, also offer AI coding automation, Google’s focus on full-stack development makes project IDX somewhat different.

Google’s Cloud Code IDE plugins could be used “to bring Codey to virtually every popular IDE,” TechCrunch writes, concluding “Project IDX makes for a nice sandbox for Google to show off some of its AI capabilities for coders, but it remains to be seen if it will turn into a full-blown IDE that developers will want to use.”

“A big part of why we’re sharing Project IDX today is we’d love to hear from the broader developer community on what could help you work even faster” and which stacks to support, Google says of its IDX preview. “IDX is not yet available to the general public,” reports The Register, noting that “Google has created a waitlist for interested developers.”

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