These days, getting an app from zero to production – especially one that works well across mobile, web, and desktop platforms – can feel like building a Rube Goldberg machine. You’ve got to navigate an endless sea of complexity, duct-taping together a tech stack that’ll help you bootstrap, compile, test, deploy, and monitor your apps.
While Google’s been working on making multiplatform app development easier for years – from Angular and Flutter to Google Cloud and Firebase – it feels like there’s even more we can do to make the entire multiplatform app development workflow faster and more frictionless. So several months ago, a few of us got together and started experimenting. And today, we’re excited to share a very early look at our experiment, which we’re calling Project IDX.
Project IDX is a browser-based development experience built on Google Cloud and powered by Codey, a foundational AI model trained on code and built on PaLM 2. It’s designed to make it easier to build, manage and deploy full-stack web and multiplatform applications, with popular frameworks and languages. Project IDX is also built on Code OSS, so it should feel familiar no matter what you’re building.
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. In the meantime, here’s a preview of what’s possible today with Project IDX.
Get to work quickly, from anywhere
At the heart of Project IDX is our conviction that you should be able to develop from anywhere, on any device, with the full fidelity of local development. Every Project IDX workspace has the full capabilities of a Linux-based VM, paired with the universal access that comes with being hosted in the cloud, in a datacenter near you.
Import your existing app, or start something new
Preview your app across platforms
Creating successful apps today means optimizing your app design and behavior across platforms, and previewing your apps just as your users would see them. To make this easier, Project IDX includes a built-in web preview and, coming soon, a fully-configured Android emulator and an embedded iOS simulator, all available directly in the browser.
Help from AI
We spend a lot of time writing code, and recent advances in AI have created big opportunities to make that time more productive. 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. Currently, Project IDX has smart code completion, an assistive chatbot, and contextual code actions like “add comments” and “explain this code”. Our AI capabilities are in their very early days, and we’re working on making IDX AI even better at helping you as you work.
Publish to the web with Firebase Hosting
Finally, a common pain point in getting your app into production is deploying it. We’ve made this easier by integrating Firebase Hosting, making it possible to deploy a shareable preview of your web app, or deploy to production with a fast, secure, and global hosting platform, with just a few clicks. And because Firebase Hosting supports dynamic backends, powered by Cloud Functions, this works great for full-stack frameworks like Next.js.
Let’s build Project IDX together
We shared how we think Project IDX can start to make multiplatform app development better, along with some strides we’ve started making in these areas. But we are just at the beginning of this journey to improve the end-to-end development workflow, and we can only make good on this vision with your help. So with that, we’d like to share an early version of Project IDX with you — rough edges and all — to iterate on what’s working well and what could be even better for your app team’s workflow. To join us on our journey, visit our website to sign up and be one of the first to try Project IDX.
As for what’s next, we’re continuously working on adding new capabilities and addressing your feedback. We’re already working on new collaboration features, as we know how important those are in this hybrid work world, as well as deeper framework integrations and more personalized/contextual AI. Please share your feature requests with us as well!