Project IDX: Initial Thoughts

Project IDX: Initial Thoughts


4 min read

After developing on project IDX for several weeks, I have gathered a couple key takeaways.

What is Project IDX

In case you are not familiar with it, Project IDX is designed to be a fully browser-based development experience. Much like Github Codespaces or, you can link github repositories or create new ones, and it works out of the box. Designed mostly for front-end development, IDX works incredibly well with JS frameworks like Next and React. It works reasonably well for backend development, as ports, like Replit and Codespaces, are automatically proxied through a custom URL.

IDX != Codespaces != Replit

After using all three tools for an extensive quantity of time, I have found myself using each tool, but for different scenarios.

Replit I use primarily when I get a great idea and don't have access to a laptop. They have an incredible mobile interface that makes coding on my phone almost bearable. It also works for small projects that I need to spin up quickly... for example, if I need to quickly analyze a spreadsheet, I can pull out replit and have everything ready out of the box, no need to run npm init no need to install packages, everything just works.

Codespaces I have found myself using to fix small errors that require a little bit of testing (otherwise I would just edit the file straight in the github editor). I can go to github, pop open a codespace, fix the bug, and commit my changes in under 5 minutes. Arguably, I could do the exact same thing in VS code, but if it is an old project I have deleted from my system this works perfectly. This also works well if I am not on my main workstation, but just on a random laptop that may not have the dependencies or the codebase.

In order to fully test out the IDX experience, I worked primarily on a chromebook. Chromebooks are stupid little pieces of machinery and are incredibly cheap. If you are on a >150 budget, my immediate recommendation is to just buy a chromebook and use IDX. Comparing IDX to VScode, is different however. The IDX machines, hosted on google cloud workstations, are significantly faster than replit and codespaces, however this comes at a cost. Every single time you close the tab or your computer, the workstation shuts down. Your filesystem is preserved, but you have to wait ~10-20 seconds each time you want to start coding.

This, however, I feel is outweighed by its ease of use. IDX is linked to your google account, so it can be used on any device can run a browser. Using project IDX is like carrying a USB flashdrive around with your code, except the USB drive can also plug into apple watches and iPhones. IDX also comes preconfigured, and is fully customizable. It does lack the sleek package interface replit has, but it makes up for this with an infinitely faster working experience.

Using project IDX, I have encountered several bugs, but this makes sense, as it is still in beta. I will not hold these against IDX.


IDX is for people who are on the move. If you stay at home and use one desktop computer, IDX is useless for you. Even if you have 2 computers, a laptop for when you're on the go and a desktop at home, it is useless for you (There is a wonderful tool called git where you can sync your code across devices, if you've ever heard of it).

IDX will work for you if you code on many different devices, some of them much slower than others, or you don't like to configure your environment.

IDX works, out of the box. It is simple to use, and that's it.

There is nothing new about IDX, most of us will not use it.

Final note: IDX does provide you a Gemini-copilot for free, unlike VScode and gitub codespaces. The Gemini is not quite as good as copilot, but it works fine.

One last thing: IDX does only allow one project for free. Here's how you solve this: just have multiple folders for each project. Problem solved.

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