Watch Orbit launch on stage here.
This interview with Orbit founders Max Wofford, Zach Latta, and Benjamin Zweig was conducted by the Job Portraits team for LAUNCH Festival.
What is the product you developed for the LAUNCH Hackathon? What does it do and how does it work?
Code is powerful, but it doesn't mean anything if you can't get your tools set up. Orbit launches your local development environment into the cloud.
We take something that can last hours, and reduce it to one click and thirty seconds. Programmers, both beginners and veterans, can skip the tedious task of installing dependencies and getting a development environment set up, and get straight to what we all really care about: building.
Our cross-platform client (OS X, Windows, Linux) automatically keeps your local projects in sync with a private server where all your dependencies are already installed. Instead of a lackluster web-based editor, you can use whatever powerful local tools you're comfortable with, and your code will execute in the cloud.
While Orbit may have been created with students in mind, its impact is far-reaching. With byte-for-byte identical environments, Orbit makes enterprise collaboration easier than ever. Your project's dependencies are bundled in Docker containers, so you can be sure that what you build will run the same for everyone you share it with.
How old is the idea and how did your team come together?
We are all associated with hackEDU, a nonprofit that helps high school students start coding clubs at their schools. From our 30 school pilot, we've learned that writing your first line of code is easy, but running your first line of code is difficult. Many languages and frameworks require technical knowledge to set up. Even for an experienced programmer, working on a new project can mean hours of setup time. Orbit can be distributed via flash drives on school computers and take away project setup time, letting programming students focus on what they want — writing and running their code.
What's next? What happens after LAUNCH Festival in an ideal world?
We plan on building out Orbit further and rolling it out at hackEDU's clubs. We aim to follow Docker's example of a freemium business model. Orbit will continue to be an open-source project, but we'll offer paid-for multiple deployment environments and collaboration.
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