The Twitter-sphere has been on fire since BrainEngine announced that they would be launching their cloud-based development environment soon. BrainEngine is the first cloud based IDE for building Force.com applications enabling developers to create, debug and deploy their applications from anywhere using only a standard browser. In case you haven't gotten on the invite list yet, head on over to their site and sign up as invites should be going out shortly. The first batch of invites are going out to those with the most referral invites.

You might be familiar with BrainEngine as it's been around for quite some time. I started using it back in 2008 when it was a .NET installable for writing Force.com code. The development environment has been completely rewritten from the ground up (in Silverlight!) so that it runs solely from the browser. Now your code that runs in the cloud can be written in the cloud!

I got a chance to hang out with BrainEngine's Brian Matthews quite a bit last month in Napa (he's a new Appirio employee, BTW) and not only is he a really awesome guy but he's #superfrickin smart as well.  He gave me access to the development environment a while ago and I'm really excited about its release. It has a really slick Visual Studio look-and-feel, is speedy and has baked-in features you won't find anywhere else. Brian has let me post some pics and details about the IDE but make sure you check out the BrainEngine blog for any updates.

Here are some highlights on the environment:

Force.com Development IDE

The IDE has a great Visual Studio look-and-feel and everything is accessible via handy tabs. You can view object meta-data, write Apex and Visualforce, run tests and deploy code from within the workbench. BrainEngine also includes a powerful SOQL editor that allows you to quickly and efficiently develop, test, and reuse SOQL queries. Additional features include auto-completion and exporting results to Excel (exporting to Google docs coming soon). Also in the works in the ability to generate Entity Relationships Models (ERDs) for your org.

Agile Development and Issue Tracking

Agile is built right in. You can communicate with and send team members Code Pointers (more to come) and perform Code Reviews. So you can send a team member some code for review and they can then open it and leave comments for those areas that needs to be fixed or refactored. The platform is also integrated with Pivotal Tracker and will soon be fully integrated with TeamForge from CollabNet. You can also access personal and team bugs and your task list in separate panels.

Team Collaboration

The service is built around collaboration, so Chatter is baked-in along with a custom IM service. They are also working on integration with CollabNet and ScrumWorks and launch of a developer community. One of the unique things about the community is that it actually lives within IDE. So if you are having a problem with some code, you can open it up, highlight the line(s) that are mis-behaving and then send an instant message with a link in it to a team or community member. When the person clicks on the link, the Workbench will open up the code and highlight the same lines. That way you can both be looking at the same code during your discussion.

Subversion Hosting

Each account comes with it's own Subversion repository and access is built right in the IDE.

Here are some sample screenshots from various parts of the IDE. Make sure you click the image for a larger version.

Object Options

Object Schema Browser

Query Builder

Bug Tracker

Code Pointer

Code Review

Compiler

Debugging

Deploying Code

Pivotal Tracker