In my recent efforts to learn more about modern Javascript I’ve been looking around at different Backend-as-a-Service (BaaS) companies.  They presumably would provide a dead simple server option for whatever I’m working on so I can focus all my attention on the front-end.  I signed up for a number of different accounts to explore the feature set and documentation, and settled on StackMob due to the perceived ease of use, and the fact that their Javascript SDK is built on backbone.js (another current interest of mine).  After creating (and deleting) some dummy apps to get a feel for things, I eventually got a very simple, but usable, database put together.  What is interesting about StackMob is that they will host your front-end app, as well as provide the back-end.  Not only that, but you deploy to your front-end development server directly from GitHub.  It’s a pretty slick system.  And as soon as I realized that GitHub projects can be edited via the Cloud9 IDE, I had a nice little dev environment fully hosted in the cloud.

I’m not saying this combination is at all practical for serious use, but it could be useful in a pinch, or when monkeying around with some prototypes while using multiple computers.  Plus Cloud9 is just fun to look at, and this provided a good excuse to use it for real once in a while.  Oh, and it’s all free (as in beer).

To get started, sign up for a Stackmob account, and a GitHub account.  Both sites have amazing documentation for getting up-and-running on their respective services.  GitHub has very detailed instructions for setting up your account with a git client on Linux, OS X, and Windows.  If you haven’t already, follow those instructions, but do not yet create a repository.

Getting started in StackMob is just as easy.  Sign up for an account, then create an app.  Every app generated by StackMob starts with a Users table, which is enough for now.  Grab the Javascript SDK from the Get your SDK page, and follow the setup instructions in the Setup your JS SDK Dev Environment section.  Step 2 is optional if you just want to edit your app in the Cloud9 IDE.  Otherwise make sure you have Ruby installed and give it a try.  In Step 3, you will be instructed to create a GitHub repository. Do that.  While you are logged into GitHub, also set up automatic fetching, so your code will get deployed to your development server every time you push to GitHub.  The Hosting Your HTML5 App… page has all the necessary instructions. Make sure you have committed and pushed some files (likely the StackMob SDK) to your GitHub repository.

By this point, you can edit files locally, push the files to GitHub, and see your changes reflected online.  To start editing online, go to and log in using your GitHub account.  When you reach your dashboard, you should see a big green button that says Create New Project in the left-hand sidebar, as well as a section in the sidebar labeled Projects on GitHub.  The URL for your dashboard is  If you cannot see your GitHub project, click the refresh button in the far lower left corner of the screen.  Select your StackMob GitHub project from the sidebar menu, and click Clone to Edit.  In the modal window, select Shared Development Server and click Checkout. It will take a minute, but your project should be created and listed under My Projects. Select your project and click Start Editing.  You should be taken to the editor window where you can open and edit your project files.  Take a few minutes to admire the lovely UI and its many features, and edit a file or two.

To test out your edits, open the console window (Menu: Windows > Console ) and run your usual git commands – e.g. git commit -a -m “msg” and git push. The Cloud9 git client will push your changes to your GitHub master branch, and those changes will then propogate almost immediately to your hosted StackMob application.

This is creating a web application in the cloud.  Development-in-the-cloud is not quite cut out for daily use, but if you really need to try out some code or get in a quick change from any computer (or tablet, or phone), this is a nifty way to do it.