The days of “it works on my machine” are gone; meet standardized development environments

Fabjan Vucina

An ideal dev environment enables developers to start coding within minutes, regardless of project or tech stack.

Developers face a constant battle against complex, fragmented dev environments. Onboarding onto new projects means tedious setup, configuring databases, dependencies, and credentials. Environments drift apart, causing “works on my machine” bugs that impair collaboration. There had to be a better way.

The pain points of developer onboarding

I’ve spent countless hours as a developer across several codebases. While exciting initially, hopping between projects meant going back and forth between tools and configurations. Getting credentials, configuring databases, installing dependencies, and successfully setting up local environments became repetitive and draining.

Onboarding onto a new codebase often took much more time than I would have liked. My productivity took a nosedive in those early days just trying to set up a working dev environment. I dreaded having to switch contexts between projects, even if it was to make a quick fix.

Collaborating with teammates in this fractured ecosystem also proved challenging. We wasted precious time sorting out why the same code behaved differently on each of our machines. I couldn’t stand encountering obscure bugs that only occurred in production or hearing somebody say “It works on my machine.” Our development velocity slowed to a crawl because the environments would rarely be in sync.

Provisioning development environments became a major bottleneck. We relied on tribal knowledge and incomplete READMEs for our workflows, but we knew there had to be a better way.

An ideal dev environment enables developers to start coding within minutes, regardless of project or tech stack. It transitions seamlessly between machines without breaking. Developers can collaborate smoothly, unimpeded by configuration discrepancies.

Streamlining the environment setup would let us focus efforts on every developer’s core mission – creating stellar code.

Vision for the ideal coding environment

To overcome these struggles, we have conceptualized key attributes of an ideal development environment:

  1. Instant Onboarding: Developers should be able to start coding within minutes on any project without days of setup. No more digging through confusing documentation or going through dependency hell.
  2. Environment Portability: The environment should transition seamlessly across machines without breaking. You should be able to continue working on any device from exactly where you left off.
  3. Security Minded: Safe environments for devs by default. Eliminating the need to worry about complex aspects like fine-grained access controls, vulnerability scanning, and secrets management.
  4. Cloud-Scale Resources: Built to leverage the elasticity and power of the cloud. But also able to run in hybrid environments.
  5. Environment Ownership: Standardized configurations maintain consistency. Developers can customize their environment with personalized dotfiles, tools, and integrations.
  6. Vendor Agnostic: Compatible with any source code repository, infrastructure, or tools. Developers should use their preferred stack and be able to switch any part quickly if needed.

This was the dream. But turning this vision into reality would require completely rethinking how development environments are created and managed.

Assembling a team of cloud development veterans

Having outlined the dream of an ideal coding environment, it became clear that achieving such a feat would be no small task.

To achieve this vision, three cloud development environment veterans came together to found Daytona – Ivan Burazin, Vedran Jukic, and Goran Draganic. Their combined expertise equipped them to architect the next generation of standardized dev environments.

Our team has decades of collective experience operating developer tools at a massive scale, serving millions of users. We set out to design a secure and adaptable platform that would become developers’ go-to coding environment – not just for individual projects, but their daily driver.

Starting from scratch to craft the smoothest developer experience

Rather than retrofitting existing solutions, Daytona was envisioned from the ground up based on accumulated wisdom and first-hand lessons from years of hands-on tooling development. Our goal was for Daytona to become developers’ virtual “home” – an environment to code, collaborate, and create regardless of context.

The key innovation of Daytona is its Standardized Development Environments (SDEs). SDEs encapsulate pre-configured tools, services, and dependencies into disposable ready-to-code workspaces. We automate the provisioning and management of standardized configurations, eliminating the dreaded setup previously required when starting a new project. Developers can start coding instantly, using their preferred editors and tools.

Developers retain the flexibility to customize their SDEs with personalized configurations, dotfiles extensions, and tools. However, the environment foundation remains standardized, avoiding the crippling configuration drift that once obstructed team collaboration. With SDEs, developers invest more energy in writing stellar code rather than wrestling configurations.

Optimized for enterprise-grade security

The introduction of GitHub Codespaces has validated our vision for Daytona, but it falls short of meeting the needs of enterprise-scale development. To address this gap, there is a clear demand for a self-managed solution that offers robust security features, advanced access controls with fine-grained role-based permissions, and comprehensive auditing capabilities to meet strict enterprise requirements.

With self-managed environments, users have the flexibility to choose where their environment is deployed, whether it’s on-premises, in a public cloud, or in a hybrid setup. This allows for independent configuration and management without being locked into a specific platform or provider.

Daytona was specifically designed to cater to these enterprise security requirements. We provide users with the confidence to leverage the power and scalability of the cloud while ensuring they maintain the necessary control and protection required by their security teams and regulators.

Adaptable design to meet developers where they are

A key focus while designing Daytona was adaptability. We wanted developers to be able to seamlessly access their coding environment anywhere, anytime, on any device. With our web dashboard and CLI, developers can access their workspaces using their preferred code editor, regardless of their device’s hardware or operating system.

In addition, Daytona seamlessly integrates with all major source code repositories, including GitHub, GitLab, and Bitbucket. This adaptability ensures developers never have to leave their preferred tools or workflows.

*screenshot of the Daytona CLI overlaying the Daytona web Dashboard

The days of “works on my machine” are gone

The feedback from developers has been tremendous, with many expressing how Daytona has positively influenced their productivity. Improvements in onboarding efficiency have been particularly noticeable, allowing developers to devote more time to coding tasks. This has resonated well with clients from various sectors, including banking and defense.

The days of “works on my machine” are over. No more wasting days setting up environments. With Daytona, the developer commute becomes frictionless. Just click and code.

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