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Sep 27, 2022

Developing CodeSandbox Projects - AMA Recap

Get a unique view into CodeSandbox Projects from the team that is actively developing it.

Filipe Lima
Filipe Lima
Developing CodeSandbox Projects - AMA Recap

What if you could develop anything on the cloud, regardless of the project's complexity or your machine's specs, while saving time and improving collaboration?

This was the big question that we working at CodeSandbox kept asking ourselves, as we began to understand all the exciting things that CodeSandbox could empower people to do.

And so, in March 2022, CodeSandbox Projects was born, a result of more than 5 years of learnings from working on CodeSandbox.

Projects, currently in open beta, runs every branch on an independent development environment, using fast micro VMs. This branch lives behind a shareable URL, so that anyone accessing it can see the code running, the preview, as well as any other devtool that has been set up (for example, Storybook). It integrates seamlessly with GitHub and VS Code, bringing a lot of flexibility into the development flow.

In this AMA session, we put the spotlight on some of the people from the fantastic team that built CodeSandbox Projects, to dive deeper into the motivations behind this development and to hear their own thoughts about why they love CodeSandbox.

What led to CodeSandbox Projects?

The big idea behind Projects had been present for a long time, as we talked with our users and understood some of the limitations of running code on your browser. It doesn't scale well when you're building more complex projects, because you have to store all files in memory, and you can't seamlessly run other languages or services like databases.

We wanted people to go beyond prototyping and actually do full development in a collaborative way. — Sanne Kalkman

One of the core values of CodeSandbox is empowering creators to feel like they can build without limits. And so, we knew we had to break free from the limits of the browser and allow for a scalable development environment powered by the cloud.

As a team, we asked “what if we can support all the use cases, all the workflows that people need to move their development from their local environment to the cloud?” — Alex Moldovan

What does our team love about Projects?

You can tell a lot about a product by what its creators have to say about it. As a team of developers ourselves, we often encountered frustrations in our workflows and wondered why some parts of our daily routines felt so cumbersome and manual.

So we didn't really hold back from creating a development experience we believe can help creators save so much time and effort. After all, development should be accessible to all.

What really stands out is how easy it is to start actually working. I'm not a super technical person, being a designer, so every time I try to work with code. I do have some struggles and a few difficulties. But using Projects just makes it so much easier because I don't have to worry about setting up the environment and I just can easily share it with my colleagues and just collaborate and basically just start building. — Lena Sottomayor

Projects effectively removes the need to switch context and spin up a local dev server to be able to preview something or work on a branch. You always get straight to the running code and can focus on coding, having everything else automated for you.

I can share a branch with my code and then a preview like Storybook as well as me using a component from Storybook - and I love that! Not only do I get to jump straight into the code without having to pull down a branch and spin it up, but if I have my tests running for example, or if I have a component that I'm playing around with, I can just send it over. — Necoline Hubner

Of course, one of the staples of CodeSandbox Projects is being able to code from anywhere. Instead of relying on your own machine, your code is always running on the cloud. Plus, with our iOS app, you can enjoy a native coding experience anywhere, straight from your iPad.

I'm able to work with my repositories. For example, I have my own personal website, and ever since my laptop crashed, I literally just imported from GitHub and all I'm doing is working on my website and being able to make PRs and make changes on the go - sometimes from my iPad. This kind of flexibility has just given me the opportunity to do that right. — Adewale Abati

As we started developing CodeSandbox with CodeSandbox, we marveled to find just how much value it brought to our individual development workflows.

After two or three months, I looked back and said - well I'm so “dependent” on these things that are automated with Projects which I didn't have before with my local environment. They're just small things that were there just helping out here and there. This is super valuable and can improve a lot of the developer experience. — Alex Moldovan

Also, don't miss this thread by Alex where he explains the process of replacing his local setup with CodeSandbox.

Looking Ahead

Developing CodeSandbox Projects was (and still is) an exciting, challenging and rewarding journey.

Don't miss the full AMA video below, where you can also hear the team provide some feedback on key questions from our audience.

If you haven't tried Projects yet, now is the right time! Import your first repo and experience all the benefits of this optimized development flow.

Also, don't forget to subscribe to our changelog newsletter and keep up to date with our latest updates (exciting things are coming!).

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