Instant and collaborative development environments | Greylock
Software development is an endless exercise in downloading, configuring, and working on other people’s code: some written by people you work with, many written by people you’ve never met but who have contributed to Internet libraries. Developers must manage their own locales, package versioning, and dependency hell within this complex and often hostile framework. Working on multiple parts of a codebase at once amplifies that toil and friction. The shift to hybrid working intensifies these issues.
Individually managed client-side development environments also represent a significant security risk. According to OWASP and others, modern commercial applications (as a percentage of the codebase) are 60-70% open source in existence. The dependency tree is untenable to traverse, with median open source dependencies per app ranging from 528 (per Synopsis) to 683 (per GitHub). After the log4j debacle, the software supply chain is the number one issue on the minds of security managers. Upstream vulnerabilities in a dependency can root developer machines.
Given these productivity and security issues, the obvious answer is to move web development to the web, as Google Docs and Figma did for knowledge workers and designers. However, 99% of development still happens today on local clients, and it’s worth understanding why.
Cloud development environments have a heavy and expensive footprint. They cannot work offline and are heavily impacted by latency. Imagine if Google Docs was billed by the minute, took minutes to load any document, and users had to wait a second for each keystroke to appear. Toy “playgrounds” that only support front-end code cannot replace basic Stul-Stack development toolchains and workflows. Fortunately, the browser as an operating system continues to progress – and the growing maturity of WebAssembly and new browser features are creating new opportunities.
Enter StackBlitz, the first production-grade development environment that harnesses the power of the web. It’s a beloved in-browser VSCode IDE that leverages your local machine’s resources in a “thick client” model: there’s no container or virtual machine.
StackBlitz automatically takes care of installing dependencies, compiling, bundling, and hot reloading as you type. You can instantly create an environment and create tools in milliseconds, much faster than you would on a local machine. StackBlitz works offline and supports full Node.js toolchains. Every StackBlitz environment is “live” on the web, previewable, and shareable with a URL. To enable this magic, StackBlitz is powered by WebContainers, their emerging WebAssembly-powered virtualization technology that runs entirely within the browser’s security sandbox.
Earlier than expected, StackBlitz also saw a strong influx of companies, including Fortune 500 companies in financial services, healthcare and technology. Even with only the limited beta, enterprise customers are seeing massive time savings per developer and better developer onboarding, amounting to millions of dollars in return on investment. We’ve seen particularly strong enthusiasm from teams trying to drive adoption of design systems, those wanting to use StackBlitz live environments for rapid prototyping and sharing, and those wanting to improve security. of their supply chain.
Zooming out on why all of this matters: there’s an insatiable appetite for software development, and yet it’s still far too difficult to code. Arming software manufacturers is a mission that we can carry out. Access to coding is access to economic mobility, and the web is the canvas for this access. Eric and Albert have a genuine decade-long commitment to democratizing software development, dating back to their previous company Thinkster, a web developer education startup. They do the work and try to move the whole ecosystem forward, and it shows.
The StackBlitz team is now 20 strong and I couldn’t be more excited about the upcoming major releases and their extension to production workflows. Use StackBlitz for free, learn about the StackBlitz company, or join the team that finally brings web development to the web.