Whether you go with a traditional IDE extended with plugins or choose a cloud-native IDE, this article presents you with the best integrated development environments from both options to choose for your Kubernetes development.
For anyone who writes code or develops applications, an IDE is a fundamental tool in their daily workflow. Especially for DevOps and SRE folks who build distributed applications and use sophisticated technologies like Kubernetes, an IDE that is specific to their workflow is important. Aside from traditional IDEs used for native software development, a new wave of IDEs in the software engineering field is Kubernetes IDEs.
Integrated development environments built with the cloud, for the cloud, and with Kubernetes in mind.
A Kubernetes IDE allows you to develop a Kubernetes application, spin up Kubernetes environments, create, operate, and manage Kubernetes resources remotely.
By introducing four of the most Kubernetes-native IDEs, this article will help you decide which IDE is suitable and efficient for your Kubernetes development.
Arguably the most widely used IDE for Kubernetes development, Lens is a feature-rich, fast-trending open-source Kubernetes project licensed under Mirantis.
Lens lets you connect and manage multiple Kubernetes clusters from Linux, Mac, and Windows platforms in an intuitive user interface that provides metrics and insight into everything running in the cluster. It is designed with Kubernetes in mind, allowing you to access, manage, and modify deployments, configurations, networking, storage, custom resources, and other Kubernetes objects across multi-cluster environments.
Lens abstracts the complexity of setting up and managing multiple clusters by grouping them into workgroups and also helps you install your preferred version of kubectl on each cluster without having to address them directly.
It has built-in support for Helm and allows you to create a new cluster by manually or automatically browsing through their kubeconfig files.
It allows you to manage your Kubernetes environment down to the pod and container level and offers an automatic installation of Prometheus instances inside your namespaces and provides metrics for analytics and troubleshooting.
Lens also integrates with your project's workflow and allows the terminal to interoperate with the local system to edit and move files remotely.
Gitpod is "an open-source Kubernetes application providing prebuilt, collaborative development environments in your browser." It is a VSCode-like IDE built with a cloud-first approach based on the open-source Theia IDE platform. It allows you to operate and manage your Kubernetes environment directly from your browser. With its intuitive UI precisely like VSCode, Gitpod allows executing tasks such as building and running applications, spinning up multiple environments, and switching between them simultaneously. It also allows you to extend its capability by integrating with any VSCode compatible extensions.
Gitpod has the ability to reproducibly spin up a server-side development environment with a fully customizable container to help you run your applications and databases.
Gitpod gives a feature-rich and delightful developer experience by providing fast and smooth executions. It is also offered as a chrome extension and prebuilds and optimizes environments before deploying to Kubernetes.
It also enhances collaboration by providing features such as live development environment sharing, taking static snapshots of environments, and code review.
Visual Code Studio is a traditional, widely-used, developer-first development environment built and open-sourced by Microsoft. Providing a simple and accessible interface, VSCode relies on high-quality plugins and extensions from its rich marketplace to provide developer-friendly features and functionalities.
From the VSCode plugin marketplace is the official feature-rich Kubernetes extension that turns VSCode into a go-to Kubernetes development environment. It allows you to view and edit your cluster objects, access Kubernetes logs, and run remote shells from your local VSCode environment. It has in-built support for Helm and allows you to browse helm repositories, forward ports, and build/execute containers remotely.
Aside from the official Kubernetes extension, there are also many relevant extensions such as Bridge to Kubernetes and Azure Kubernetes Service built by Microsoft to ease Kubernetes development on GCP and Azure cloud platforms.
Developed by JetBrains and licensed under Apache, IntelliJ is one of the most ancient, standard traditional integrated development environments written in Java. It provides a developer-friendly platform for writing, building, and debugging code across multiple programming languages.
Even though it has native support for building and debugging Docker containers, it relies on plugins and extensions to transform into a well-featured Kubernetes IDE. JetBrains offers an official Kubernetes plugin that enables you to run and manage Kubernetes clusters directly. The plugin allows you to access, view, and edit cluster objects, pod logs and run the remote shell. It also provides advanced features for working with Kubernetes manifests, Helm charts, and Customize patches.
Major cloud platforms, including AWS, Azure, and GCP, provide IntelliJ plugins to further ease Kubernetes development on their cloud platform using the IntelliJ IDE.
Considering that Lens is a truly cloud-native, Kubernetes-native IDE, one might suggest that it is the best IDE for Kubernetes development. It offers many features, integration, and extensibility that make it a strong candidate for this title. However, other IDEs listed above also provide similar features. Gitpod, for example, is a great competitor because it is cloud-native and built on developers' most preferred IDE, VSCode, which might make it preferable to other IDEs.
Each of the IDEs highlighted in this article is handpicked to ensure that they are one of the best IDEs available for Kubernetes development. Whichever one you choose will be based on your personal preference and whether or not you need the extensibility it provides.
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