Kodingen: Free, Easy Web Development Environment

I missed this month’s New York Tech Meetup due to a previous engagement that was scheduled over 5000 years ago. By the way, Matt Merriam has a nice summary of September’s NYTM demos. One of the startups, Kodingen, caught my attention. It is a free web development environment that encourages a community to provide support and cheering. I filed this away.

I was intrigued by the recent release of the FCC’s open APIs for accessing competitive ISP data. I had already hacked out—I am not a developer by any means— tools for graphically displaying the FCC’s “477” data on Google Maps (see references below). Could I somehow combine this all into a single project and perhaps use the amazing Google Maps Data infrastructure for sharing my results?

A tall order.  That’s when I brought Kodingen back to the head of my to-do list, and so I registered on the site to see what I’d be up against.  In fact, this is a delightfully simple open-source environment to work in.

Nothing against my current hosting service, Bluehost, but I was able to start working almost immediately in Kodingen without any of the usual obstacles and annoyances.

With Kodngen, you are instantly assigned a web domain and face a familiar cpanel-like interface on which to manage and edit files (along with shell and FTP rights ).  Your virtual work space also comes with all the usual languages (PHP, perl, python, …),  rich set of editors, databases, and there’s even a lightning-fast one-click install for popular web software (including WordPress).

It was a complete surprise at how easy it was to get started.

Kodingen was started by brothers Devrim and Sinan Yasar—Devrim, by the way, was CTO at betterfly and current holds that title at buzzd. While the idea seems completely obvious, I’ve not in my travels come across another free and open-to-the-general-public development environment.  To its credit, Kodingen  does not have the feel of a typical pay-to-play hosting service. When I first entered the site, I thought I had arrived at a social networking playground: the feel was more Meetup than cloud-based web tools environment.

In fact, Kodigen’s collaboration and community aspects really differentiates them from the standard hosting model. The site is currently in beta, but it appears they will bring in software-release tools (git,etc. ) for managing larger group projects. In another words, this is not an anonymous and sterile development experience.

From their business plan—I’m just reading their about page— the idea is to eventually sell their services to businesses while keeping the general purpose site free to non-corporate citizens.

Kodingen’s effortless development environment

In my last corporate gig, I watched as freemium social networking tools, such as Yammer, won over very stubborn corporate hearts and minds. It will be interesting to see if free development environments, such as Kodingen’s, can pull off a similar feat through viral spreading of their wares.

Assuming they eventually add all the security measure that IT  managers crave, I believe they may have a winning hand. My limited experiences  over the years in dealing directly with IT departments has not been especially breezy.

I’ll go out on a limb and guess many others have had similar ordeals to mine in getting web work developed and deployed.

So … in the same way that Yammer caught on, Kodingen could conceivably sway corporate developers and ultimately force IT departments to recognize and bless this software and its collaborative approach to development.

By the way, I should have my FCC competitive ISP mashup online by next week. 🙂

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