Learn ClojureScript in a Cloud IDE

By Zach Oakes on January 13th, 2017

I used to be perplexed by people who didn't want to try ClojureScript due to the tooling. The ClojureScript crowd has rightly noted that modern JavaScript tooling is far more complex! But there's one flaw in that argument. English may be intrinsically more complex than Korean, but why should someone who already knows the former take the time to learn the latter?

ClojureScript's unique ecosystem and tooling is completely foreign to the average web developer. For them, it must feel similar to what a waiter in Mexico City felt when I asked him, in English, for a Yuengling and a burger. Ironically, it was there, last month, that I built the first cut of Nightcoders.net, a new cloud IDE meant to demystify ClojureScript.

The real advantage of a cloud IDE is that they can let you skip the setup and get right to coding. In our case, you don't need to install the JDK, Leiningen/Boot, or a ClojureScript-aware editor. Everything is running on my server, so you can focus on the code. If you want to run it locally later, you can export the project and build it with those tools when you're ready.

When I was a teenager, I got a Dreamhost account and learned web development by uploading PHP scripts and refreshing the page until I got what I wanted. The world of transpilers and SPAs has robbed beginners of this simple experience. Cloud IDEs are perfectly positioned to provide a facade over these complicated tools and give today's beginners the same experience I enjoyed.

Many cloud IDEs have focused on experienced devs, but this is a mistake. Someone who already knows their tools is almost always better off running them locally. Newer cloud IDEs like Gomix have it right -- we should be targetting those who are new and want to skip the grueling setup process. We should try to be the next Geocities, not the next IntelliJ.