At this week’s DockerCon, Docker announced a new collaboration tool called “Developer Environments”. It will move the company from being purely a platform for hosting apps to a development and collaboration solution as well.
Docker is a virtualization service that deploys packaged apps onto containers, each with its own configuration, installed software, and libraries. It allows enterprises to easily deploy apps with just a few commands.
The Docker containers have already replaced virtual machines in many cases, mainly because they are more lightweight and easier to manage in large numbers.
Typically, people would use a container to run a pre-built app or service. Developer Environments now allow adding an integrated development environment (IDE) on top of Docker Desktop. Developers will be able to use VSCode, like they normally would, to write code.
The Price of Increased Degree of Control
There are a few expected benefits to running an IDE in Docker instead of setting up everything locally.
The main one is that devs can use one Development Environment to work on code from multiple containers. This allows simultaneously working on several branches of a repository or projects that run on different versions of the same technology.
Switching between branches using git on a standard PC is a hassle. It’s even worse if one of the legacy projects uses older versions of dependencies that are already installed. The new Docker tools solve this problem.
Teams of developers can easily share code by pushing software projects with all the auxiliary assets with one command. And since Docker makes it beyond fast to download and set up a container, the new features are nothing to scoff at.
Not everybody is excited about the new tools, however. A few users have complained that cloning entire Docker images will be clunky compared to just changing git branches. Others point out that the system has no meaningful way to track changes in code. On top of that, the only currently supported IDE is VSCode, though a few more might be introduced.
Some good news is that the base development functionality will be free for community version users. Team plan subscribers will be able to utilize the sharing functionality at standard rates.
Docker Becomes Widely Available
A few other solutions introduced at DockerCon are more robust access controls for organizations and a powerful new version of Docker Compose with better support for deep learning and offloading heavy workloads to the GPU.
Keep in mind that Docker Compose is only available on Docker Desktop and will be on the Linux version later in the year.
Regardless of user opinions about the new updates, the team behind Docker is certainly displaying some out-of-the-box thinking.
Time will tell if and how the platform will get over the version control hurdles and what kind of impact Development Environments will have on future dev technologies.