Experiences adopting Theia?

Hi! I stumbled across Theia recently and I’ve been really impressed by how well it works: specially being able to drop in the Vim plugin from VScode and see it just run.

I was curious if people who had adopted Theia in their organizations could talk about what went well and also what didn’t or was tricky to work around. Thanks!

[original thread by Kunal Bhalla]

[A. B. Carroll]

Theia is great. And it’s going to eventually be the greatest, I’m absolutely sure of it.

However, right now it’s still very unfriendly in my experience. Even for a developer. I’ve never implemented it in an organization but I’ve been trying to and wanting to switch from IntelliJ (aka PHPStorm+WebStorm+so on) to Theia.

Specifically, with a built-in full service, full spectrum development environment running on a remote system. This way I can just keep my data on AWS, Azure, and whatever… If I need to run a test using 500 CPUs, it just costs a few pennies. If I need to do something development wise that would save me an hour of time to use a machine with 64 cpus and 300GB of memory, … everything is already there waiting in the cloud infrastructure, and it costs a few pennies which is well worth it.

Right now, I am running my personal instance kind of split between Vultr and AWS. Vultr, because I personally am able to get <10ms latency to their Chicago DC. So I connect into Vultr, but have my bulk of data sitting on AWS. That way I can talk to the server with the lowest latency, but get the best price on storing data. For AWS, … spot instances are crazy cheap. Azure has similar which are similarly crazy cheap. Theia runs fine on all of this, of course.

What’s been difficult for me so far is

  • Getting used to things!
    Missing features from IntelliJ. Honestly, Theia has 90%+ of the features for most languages. Quite easily. But, it’s the small things that saved me time that I miss. Example, just being able to write out a lot of PHP class boilerplate (the members, getters, setters, constructor args, etc).
    But, this is of course what makes Theia so great. I’ll hopefully find time to write them in myself, … Opensource it maybe and brighten someone else’s day.

  • Not using VSCode … I know this sounds silly … But there are a FEW things VSCode still is beating Theia at. But see previous statement.

  • The community is still small right now. People still don’t quite get it… Yet. Keep spreading the name. Luckily, because of the compatibility, this is less of an issue, … However if you need something “Theia specific”, and it’s not something that would be covered by documentation and you just “need to ask someone”, … it can sometimes be hard to find someone. It can be hard to find answers to questions asked via google. Again, this will improve.

  • Consistency … Again, I’m actually really trying to change this by making a “Standard Theia Distribution” of my own. I haven’t OSS’d it yet, but perhaps I should soon. Think of theia-full on steroids.

ABOVE ALL … Confusion … Gitpod, VSCode, Code Server? … Theia! … No, wait, what’s Che? … Should I be using Che, or Theia or VSCode or !!! … This is got me in the beginning. It looks like you’re already past this, perhaps. I still get confused quite a bit from time to time.

PS there is a lot of criticism here. I don’t mean this in a harmful way. Thanks to everyone who makes this great piece of software.

List of some adopters:

We had Theia Con last year there some adopters did presentation about their integrations:

Obviously things changed in one year and let’s hope we have another conference this year too there we can hear more adoption stories.

Measuring Theia community in end users does not make sense, we don’t target them, but product developers which want to reuse VS Code based tech but at the same time look for low level customisations and white-labeling. Adopters listed above just big players, they are for sure smaller and more of such will come in this year.

There is also second level of Theia adoption from products like Gitpod (which is basically a platform to run custom Theia with dev environments as code). Last week DWave (https://www.dwavesys.com/) launched the quantum cloud service based on it: https://www.youtube.com/embed/4-ctzeBQkTc?autoplay=0 That’s probably a first solution of such kind.

I understand frustration from devs who are trying to be end users and hope at some point we will have Theia IDE as well not only framework, but right now it is not a focus. Contributors are basically adopters from companies behind products above who are trying to balance between improving own products and contributing to Theia.

[Kunal Bhalla]

Thanks for the details! Gitpod is pretty amazing, I tested it out before posting here.

I hadn’t seen the videos from Theia Con, I’ll take a look at those; that’s strongly along the lines of what I was hoping for!

reuse VS Code based tech but at the same time look for low level customisations and white-labeling

That’s exactly what i was curious about, eg. things that could go right – very good customizations, engineers in the org are very satisfied; things that could go wrong – people still pine for VSCode, they had trouble deploying it internally for some reason, etc. just the mundane stuff that might not make it to a presentation.

sounds like I had a similar experience with Theia. I was looking for a remove development IDE for myself and my team to use. I really don’t need something as complicated at Eclipse Che although it would be nice to have that environment it is too much over head for our small team.

We have a good set of scripts to assist developers in maintaining their environment I just need a remove IDE. I used Theia for a couple months using the latest version and built it myself. I was using haproxy to do basic authentication. It was very nice developing from a browser. I could connection from anywhere using any system. I was developing on a low end chromebook at times just to test.

In the end i decided it was not ready for my team. There was really nothing I was not willing to put up with but my team would get frustrated. I am trying vscode over ssh now to see if that is more stable. If down the road someone comes up with a remove dev env based on theia that simply runs on linux and allows for simple authentication and supports most of the vscode plugins/extensions I think it would do really well and I would use it without hesitation.


Hi! To find out what I can do, say @discobot display help.

That would be great… have a Theia IDE. And of course it is close. I used the reference example as my daily IDE for a couple months.