Lifehacker, a very popular site devoted to workplace efficiency and productivity tools, has sought out the advice of its overachieving readers when it comes to what web hosting services are best for app developers and those dabbling in code. Although posted early Friday, this question has elicited a tremendous response including nominations of various platforms and first-hand experiences with various hosts, as well as some sage advice about what developers look for in a host.
Some of the most talked about hosts include Heroku, Digital Ocean, Amazon Web Services, Windows Azure, Linode, Gandi.net and A Small Orange. The Lifehacker community – with its devotion to finding solutions that work – have done a nice job of focusing on pricing, features and support – not a place for marketing pitches from official representatives. It was very interesting to see what actual users found most important.
One of the topics of discussion was the integration of version control into the hosting platform. Allowing developers and developer teams to manage and track changes, version control is almost essential for any complex development. Many favor Git, but anything that can be easily incorporated relatively painlessly into a user’s typical workflow would likely satisfy users.
Free usage tiers, such as those offered Heroku and AWS, were also very popular – especially for new users and those running miniscule applications. Cheap entry-level tiers are also very popular since not all applications will be massively successful initially or ever. If they do need to grow, so does the likelihood that the application will pay for or at least justify the rising fees.
Another major point of discussion was ease of use and platform support. Some web hosts figure that their clients are smart enough to figure out complex systems and integrate services, but this thinking is ultimately destructive. Hosting newcomer DigitalOcean got great marks for being easy to setup different environments.
But not all comments have been positive. Among the various gripes, people seem to be very upset – and rightfully so – when a hosting provider’s marketing doesn’t meet up with their experience. Furthermore, if you advertise yourself as a friendly company with an easy-to-use solution, then users will expect this sort of experience going in. If your product can’t deliver on this, raising the bar may be detrimental.
As more people learn to code, and development becomes a more mainstream activity, discussions about web hosts and their particular features is becoming less of a niche topic than before. Web hosts need to pay attention to these discussions in order to continue to provide relevant services.