Editor’s Note: Today’s guest blog post comes from Matthew Pardee, Developer Evangelist at Cloud9 IDE, which is an online platform for development, where all the code is open-source, free to adapt and use for everyone, anywhere, anytime.

Running production code on different computers and software stacks is a pain. Worse, it can be a huge distraction for developers where they would otherwise focus on a singular goal.

Yet many teams still work this way. We suffer through the long periods of managing configurations and reconciling platform differences so everyone on the team can start doing... what exactly? Oh yeah, what they do best: code.

There is an opportunity beyond just having the same IDE that everyone uses to get work done. And that opportunity is where Cloud9 has maintained its focus, and where it continues to innovate. It is the potential of a workflow that exists entirely in the cloud.

Cloud9 is the only cloud-based development platform that offers Windows Azure and Windows Azure Web Sites integration. Here are the features Cloud9 released this week that support this vision and makes developing applications for Windows Azure even easier:

Collaboration

Now developers around the world can edit the same code and chat together in real-time. Think of how productive pair programming and code reviews will be, how much more effective presentations are when an audience is truly involved. And how rewarding it is to teach a group of students the art of programming.

Your Workspace in the Cloud

This is the feature that powers every project with its own runtime environment. And it’s the platform professional developers have been waiting for. Now you can compile with gcc. Run the Python and Ruby interpreters. And remember those platform differences you had to maintain for every member of your team? Now when your team works, they are all running on the same OS and software stack. Premium accounts get a full-blooded terminal to interact with their server like they would their local system.

Sync Locally, Work Offline

Cloud9 IDE is now installable as a small app for your desktop - but it’s much more than a desktop IDE. You can keep your hosted projects synced locally so you can keep developing, even when offline. And those desktop projects you had before using Cloud9? They can be pushed to c9.io, giving them all the power and freedom of coding and collaborating in the cloud.

Code Completion

The depth and sophistication of JavaScript analysis - once thought the domain of desktop IDEs - is now on Cloud9. As you type, code suggestions appear below your code. Plus hovering over suggestions shows helpful JavaScript and Node.js documentation. Type Ctrl-Shift-E or Cmd-Shift-E to open the outline view, and quickly navigate to methods in the active file.

Refined Tooling

These features are in addition to the finessed tooling that Cloud9 has been refining for the past year: extremely quick file access, robust search-in-files, in-browser debugger for Node.js, a capable console for running SCM and IDE commands, a rich and full-featured editor, and a beautiful UI. And there is a lot more Cloud9 has to offer.

Deployment: See your Code Come to Life in The Cloud

Cloud9 has been in lockstep with Windows Azure since January of this year when we released support for Windows Azure at Node Summit. And we worked early with Microsoft to integrate Windows Azure Web Sites, unveiling support for the platform right out the gate.

Windows Azure leads the Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) field in SLA and latency response. They have data centers in America, Europe and Asia, and they offer an integrated suite of service offerings that make application development on their platform a natural choice for any application.

With this release Cloud9 is introducing a new way of getting work done. We are excited to get your feedback as you try these features, and more, at c9.io.

- By Mathew Pardee, Developer Evangelist, Cloud9