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.
Written by Liam Tung, Contributing Writer

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

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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