Google's Coder tool turns Raspberry Pi into a mini web server

Raspberry Pi tinkerers have a new tool from Google that helps make use of the device as a private web development environment.

Google has released Coder, a free open source tool to make it easier to use Raspberry Pi mini-computers to build for the web.

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    Hatched by Google Creative Lab 'creative technologist' Jason Striegel, designer Jeff Baxter, and a small team in New York, Coder offers a stepping stone for people interested in building for the web by converting cheap Raspberry Pi mini-computers into personal web servers through a stripped-back web-based development environment. 

    Google's pitching Coder at an education audience, a potential sweet spot for Raspberry Pi given its $35 price tag and one Google has focused on previously, gifting 15,000 of the devices to UK schools earlier this year . Raspberry Pi supporters in the UK have also been urging schools to use the devices to spur interest in coding, hacking and building.

    According to Google, Coder offers a simple platform that teachers and others can use to demonstrate how to build for the web through browser-based projects written in HTML, CSS and Javascript. 

    Using Coder obviously requires a Raspberry Pi device, although the tool itself can be downloaded from the web to a Mac or PC — a Mac OS X installer is included in the bundle, but PC users will need to download separate utilities. Users will also need a 4GB SD card to transfer the Coder SD image to the Raspberry Pi.

    The Coder landing page is organised in a grid displaying the developer's apps as well as a gear icon to adjust Coder's setting details such as name, password and wireless settings.

    Developers can also view a preview of their project using the eye icon. 

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    Previewing work in Coder. Image: Google

    Coder can run on a standard wired Ethernet connection, while running it on a wi-fi connection requires a mini wi-fi module for the Pi, which costs around $12.

    Coder has password controlled sign-in and accessing it on the Pi device is done via a web browser on a computer on the same network. All projects are stored on the Pi device itself.

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