Google Offers Devs Browser-based AI Workspace in Project IDX

Google to challenge Microsoft's VS Code, offering developers smart AI tools to aid app creation

Ben Wodecki, Jr. Editor

August 14, 2023

2 Min Read
Credit: AI Business

At a Glance

  • Google has unveiled an experimental new developer platform called Project IDX.
  • IDX combines a cloud-based workspace with AI coding assistance tools to simplify app development.

Google is giving developers tools to code and build AI faster via a new web-based workspace, Project IDX.

This experimental new initiative is aimed at giving developers access to an entire multiplatform app development workflow via the cloud. Developers can use the workspace right from their browsers and can even access existing applications from GitHub.

Project IDX works across multiple platforms and frameworks, including Angular, Next.js, React, Svelte and Flutter. Support for Python and Go is “coming soon,” the company said.

With IDX, Google is vying to tap into the developer community at the expense of VS Code, Microsoft’s development platform. Microsoft and Google have been challenging each other across various aspects of AI since the turn of the year and the introduction of a new development platform could be no different.

When building with Project IDX, users can preview their apps as if users would see them. Google said it plans to add support for built-in multi-browser web previews, Android emulators and iOS simulators.

IDX also gives users access to Codey, a foundational AI model built on Google’s flagship AI model PaLM 2 that’s trained on code. The platform has smart code completion, an assistive chatbot and contextual code actions to allow users to use natural language prompts to interact with generations, like ‘explain this code.’

Google bills Project IDX as a way of making software development less complex, with the experimental project a way to “reimagine a better workflow to build, ship and manage apps.”

How to access Project IDX

Google has so far only released an early version of Project IDX. To access it, you must join the waitlist for the limited preview.

Why is Google building a developer platform?

The inception of Project IDX is that while app development has become more accessible via platforms like Angular and Flutter, Google contends it’s become complex, with increased friction.

A company blog post states that getting an app that works across multiple platforms to production “can feel like building a Rube Goldberg machine.”

Project IDX gives Google another way to market its AI products. Rolled into IDX is Firebase, Google’s freemium web app development platform, and Google Cloud security features, among others.

To further entice developers, Google bills its platform as having a familiar feel as VS Code, while also providing access to a host of smart tools to entice the developer community. Google also wants developers to provide feedback on how IDX performs to further build out the offering. The company plans to further beef up IDX, including new collaboration features, deeper framework integrations and more personalized AI options.

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ChatGPT / Generative AI

About the Author(s)

Ben Wodecki

Jr. Editor

Ben Wodecki is the Jr. Editor of AI Business, covering a wide range of AI content. Ben joined the team in March 2021 as assistant editor and was promoted to Jr. Editor. He has written for The New Statesman, Intellectual Property Magazine, and The Telegraph India, among others. He holds an MSc in Digital Journalism from Middlesex University.

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