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Ask Slashdot: No-Install Programming At Work? 386

An anonymous reader writes "Hello! Every summer (and other holidays) the work load at my job becomes minimal. I like scripting (HTML, CSS etc.) and would like to get into programming just to tinker a bit due to curiosity. At work we are not allowed to install anything except company approved software. Is there something I can program in that has an IDE like I guess I am asking for a recommendation on both language and IDE at the same time. Again, I want to reiterate that this is to satisfy my tinkering curiosity and thus not need something great, just something more advanced than HTML/CSS."
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Ask Slashdot: No-Install Programming At Work?

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  • Codeacademy (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 23, 2012 @04:17PM (#40422933)

  • Portable Python? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by PCM2 ( 4486 ) on Saturday June 23, 2012 @04:19PM (#40422945) Homepage

    You don't say much about language preference, but would Portable Python [] fill the bill? I know you asked for an IDE as well, and there might be options for that -- or really any text editor will do -- but this might be a place to start.

    • Or, if you're into PHP, there are several no install apache web servers you can put on a pen drive. They're both great languages though. Truth be told, I think Python is more fun, but I've always found PHP more useful.
    • Komodo Edit is pretty good for Python, and easy enough to shove on a USB stick [].

    • you could try putting portable virtualbox on a flash drive 32 gig aught to do and install say ubuntu or debian on a vm then do your development in there

    • Since pyqt and pygtk are included, there are some python based python editors that don't need to be installed to run (and have the dependencies they need). Perhaps something like []. I'd suggest (the dated) drpython as a beginner, but I'm not sure if wxpython is included in portable python.
  • Eclipse (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 23, 2012 @04:20PM (#40422957)

    it's possible to run eclipse without installing anything, just from the executable in the directory.

    also, BlueJ i think you can do the same thing.

    Eclipse has a built in java compiler too i believe so you don't need to install the jdk.

    • Eclipse does need Java to run, though. That might complicate matters a bit.

      • So do an incredible number of corporate apps. I've yet to see a work place small or large which didn't have a JRE installed on their machines by default. If workplaces like this do exist I imagine they would be a minority.

    • It'll probably still get you fired if you're found out. There's no harm in installing something if no part of it is never executed. Its running the thing that can cause problems.

      Also, unzipping an application archive is no different that running a self extracting archive, which is no different to many installers. The process and end result is the same, the only difference is the method used.
  • JavaScript (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 23, 2012 @04:20PM (#40422961)

    Your browser already supports it. Just fire up Notepad or Wordpad as your "IDE".

    • Second that, if he is into front end layout and wants to make a leap to writing code it may as well be javascript.

    • Wordpad? I'll admit I haven't fired it up since I moved to 7, but really?

      Programmer's Notepad [] has a portable version.

    • Another thing that may be installed already is Microsoft Office. I believe Microsoft Office products have a programming language built in. At a minimum if you have Excel then you can program some stuff in the spreadsheet. Though I think you can do much more than that. Some searching suggest you can program in Visual Basic in Excel.
  • Remote Desktop (Score:4, Insightful)

    by CyberBill ( 526285 ) on Saturday June 23, 2012 @04:20PM (#40422963)

    Use a web-based ( or pre-installed remote administration app (Windows Remote Desktop? maybe VNC?) - or install RealVNC and use it's web app. Then control your home PC and run whatever IDE and language you prefer. I'd recommend Visual Studio Express and C# or C/C++, but that's just personal preference.

    • Re:Remote Desktop (Score:5, Insightful)

      by kiwimate ( 458274 ) on Saturday June 23, 2012 @04:25PM (#40423009) Journal

      If they are not allowed to install anything not on the list, remoting to a PC outside of the company firewall is probably a firing waiting to happen.

      • First of all, the RDP protocol is encrypted. So your safe there. Minus the fact there was a nasty exploit that got plugged (you are running updates on your home pc, right?), but I digress. Anyways, you can access the client from the Run/Search line under the Start Menu by typing MSTSC.

        Above all, check with your internal corporate IT policy. If they don't mention anything about external systems access, well...

  • Buy a laptop and install LAMP []
  • Here you go: (Score:5, Informative)

    by Georules ( 655379 ) on Saturday June 23, 2012 @04:26PM (#40423015) []
  • by gman003 ( 1693318 ) on Saturday June 23, 2012 @04:26PM (#40423017)

    Back in school, I put my stuff on a small USB flash drive (at first a 256MB, later a 4GB - both cost about $20 when I got them). For me, it was CodeBlocks, because my personal coding project was in C++, but I imagine you can do the same with nearly any open-source IDE and compiler/interpreter.

    • ..... because they definitely won't have a policy covering USB thumb drives.
      • They quite possibly *don't*.

        Prohibiting people from installing software means they don't trust them to administer their own machines. Which I can actually understand in many situations - do you know how many relatives' computers I've had to fix because they installed some malware or crap?

        Prohibiting people from using USB drives means they don't trust them with their own data - worried about data leaks. That's far less common (and far less excusable - unless he's working with *extremely* sensitive data, you

  • by Shimdaddy ( 898354 ) on Saturday June 23, 2012 @04:28PM (#40423025) Homepage
    I don't know how much debugging type stuff you want to do, but you might enjoy using a web-based IDE like IDE One []. You can use any language you want, and if I were you, I'd type my code in a text editor that allows for syntax highlighting, like Notepad++, which can be run without an install.
  • Here (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ultranerdz ( 1718606 ) on Saturday June 23, 2012 @04:31PM (#40423049)
  • Eclipse ( is no-install, just drop it into a directory and run it. Java is a reasonably widespread run-time environment, though as a language, it may not fit the bill for "tinkering." Eclipse supports other languages, too. If you're looking for a lightweight web container, try Jetty. No installation required, and you can run your own J2EE application (again, if that's "tinkering"). But yes, on your own dime is probably good advice. Look for ways to improve your value to the company. Start with
    • Not sure if they finally fixed that, but the last time I tried that, it still needed two minor adjustments in a config file to run reliably from a USB stick.

  • by MacTO ( 1161105 ) on Saturday June 23, 2012 @04:36PM (#40423085)

    If your company doesn't want you to install unauthorized software, they probably don't want you to run unauthorized software either. This is doubly true since you are going to want to run the software you developed. So I would suggest a web based alternative, or to SSH into a remote host (you can use a java based SSH client).

    I would advise finding out which language you want to program first, then asking for the options available since there are a lot of options available.

    If you're just interested in learning basic programming skills, JavaScript is also a good starting point and would probably work well with your existing development tools.

  • by couchslug ( 175151 ) on Saturday June 23, 2012 @04:39PM (#40423111)

    Problem solved.

  • by Dwedit ( 232252 ) on Saturday June 23, 2012 @04:49PM (#40423183) Homepage

    There's always the Tiny C Compiler, a 280K zip file containing a C compiler, and all the headers for the standard library and Windows API. No installation needed for that.

  • General Interface [] is an industry grade Ajax toolkit designed to be a replacement/alternative in Java or Flex Client situations. It comes with an IDE built with its own components - think Ajax equivalent of Eclipse - which is basically a zipped HTML page with some subdirectories and stuff abused to be a full blow coding enviroment. It runs in FF or IE, loads tons of XML, JSON, JS and CSS stuff out of the subdirectories and behaves just like you'd expect an IDE to behave.

    If you want to see what's possible wit

  • Seriously.

    A number of us have flexibility in this arena because we've been working for the same employer for a while, or we're in charge of a department, or because we're consultants/independent contractors. I'd often play video games at work after the end of the work day, and that was fine with everyone because the work got done.

    Unfortunately a number of employers are implementing increasingly draconian policies regarding software and hardware use, and rules about what is/isn't appropriate policy, even after work has let out for the day, or even if your fun side programming projects could make you a more skilled and more productive employee. Some of these policies and rules even govern the work that you do when you aren't at work, even if you do it on your own hardware.

    One option would be to boot your system off a usb key/external drive. This would allow you to run Ubuntu 12.04 (or something) and hack around using Python, Ruby, Java, Processing, or pretty much anything else you can dream of. This is a really cheap solution (A 16GB usb key is about $10 online). The problem with this approach is that you're still using your work hardware, and it's harder for you to switch between your company's OS/software and your own. Also, if your company has a problem with you installing software, they might get all upset about you booting from external media, too.

    If you can pick up an old laptop for cheap (maybe ask friends if they have an old one they aren't using?) then you can throw something like lubuntu [] or just stock debian [] on there, and then you'll have a great little dev machine that you can use to program up a storm. You don't need a big hard drive, and if you're using it plugged-in, the battery doesn't even need to work.

    If you start to work on a project that you actually want to release, ask your boss if it's okay for you to hack on things at the office. Even if it's just a small side project released under a FOSS license, you're technically on the clock and so it's best to get an okay ahead of time.

    Good luck!

  • by vux984 ( 928602 ) on Saturday June 23, 2012 @04:54PM (#40423225)

    If you are not allowed to install anything not on the list, working around the rule using "portable applications" is rarely acceptable either.

    What? Do you think the rule against "installing" things was because someone doesn't like the add/remove programs window getting cluttered up? Do you really think they'd be a-ok with you downloading a ton of crap and running it just because it doesn't require an "installation"?

    As far as most normal IT people are concerned the fact that you didn't use an "installer" to get your non-approved crap on the PC is generally completely irrelevant.

  • I would go for one of the online PaaS IDE such as:
  • I personally have Thinstall/Thinapp installs of Visual Studio 6, up to 2005, as well as a slew of Borland originating products. It was really no hassle and it just seems to work.
    • I second that, even tough I am a now corporate java guy, I the most productive IDE I ever used was the last version of Borland Visual C++ builder. You could do RAD prototyping, and then an build industrial scale DB-driven web app version of the prototype in the same IDE, it had the easiness of VB with the power of C++.

  • PythonAnywhere (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jashsu ( 2646271 ) on Saturday June 23, 2012 @05:04PM (#40423281)
    Because you explicitly asked for both a recommendation on an install-free solution as well as a language. []
  • TinyCC [] doesn't require anything else to run, is small, fast, and has enough functionality for hobby-level stuff. For an IDE, just use notepad or something.

    However, if you get fired for this, it's going to be your own fault for knowingly violating the rules. Brining your own laptop might not be acceptable either, depending on the environment, but that would be the best possibility so it's definitely worth checking out. Another possibility is to use remote desktop or ssh or something to connect to your home

  • The distinction is legalistic-sounding to me. If your company policy is to not install unapproved software on your computer the fact it doesn't use an installer doesn't matter. You're still "installing" an unapproved executable on your computer. Even if it's a java .jar file.
  • []

    Notepad++ v6.1.3 7z package : Don't want to use installer? 7z format.

    You can run "Notepad++" from a USB stick.
    • If OP's company doesn't allow unapproved programs on their computers, they definitely won't allow USB sticks.
      • by Max_W ( 812974 )
        How they won't allow? Sealing USB sockets with a glue?
        • At my work the PCs are locked down in Windows to prevent them from working. Also, they're explicitly forbidden in the IT policy. Use them and get fired.
          • by Max_W ( 812974 )
            Wow. What will they do when the power of a smartphone processor will be as of a PC and there will be flexible displays, like handkerchiefs? Body-search on entrance?
            • Well we're still allowed to bring in smart phones and personal notebook PCs. We just can't connect them to the network.
  • C# and a console (Score:4, Interesting)

    by luckymutt ( 996573 ) on Saturday June 23, 2012 @05:41PM (#40423527)
    I found myself in a similar situation at a previous job where I was bored out of my skull due to a lack of work at the company during the down economy.
    So I decided to teach myself some more programming skills.
    Unfortunately, I was in the same position where I couldn't install anything.

    Find csc.exe on your machine. All Windows machines have this. Buried down in here: C:\Windows\Microsoft.NET
    Put it in your path.
    Now you can write all the C# applications you want in Notepad. If you can get Notepad++ then it would make it a lot easier as it has code-coloring/indentation. I was able to install it by bringing the installer in on a flash drive. Being just an advanced notepad, I didn't worry about what would happen if someone noticed the install.
    You can compile it via the command line with >csc.exe
    You'll then have a nice little executable of whatever you made. And you may be surprised how complex of an application you can make this way...maybe you wouldn't. This approach sure helped fill my days for a while there.
  • Javascript would be an obvious choice. It's a sucky language, but would dovetail nicely with what you already know. Then you could switch to PHP on the server side, then Python or Ruby.

  • Once this will be found out, using "portable applications" (running un-approved executables on company hardware) will be considered "installation", and you will be fired.

  • While other browser-based options have been highlighted, I'll throw my thought in for a Beagleboard and using the built-in node.js environment. If the network is locked down, you would have to do more work-- thinking a transparent firewall if you have no control of the PC as a worst-case. A USB Ethernet adapter might work as well.

    I guess you could use a headless Raspberry PI via local ssh instead if you wanted to go for the full LAMP approach, in much the same fashion.

    But, if I saw you plugging strange bo

  • by monk ( 1958 ) on Saturday June 23, 2012 @08:15PM (#40424669) Homepage

    I take your question to mean that you want to program but aren't allowed to add anything to your work machine, including binary files that don't require an installer to run. That's typically how I've seen that sort of rule interpreted.

    You mentioned an interest in HTML/CSS and presumably javascript.

    You might enjoy JSFiddle []

    If you would like to try other languages or other approaches, there are online IDEs for that too:

    ShiftEdit - Online IDE | ShiftEdit [http]
    ECCO -Web-based IDE []
    Cloud IDE []
    WIODE []
    CodeRun []
    Cloud9 IDE [] []

    And some more lists and reviews: []

    Another option would be to look at some of the free shell account vendors online, but you seemed mostly interested in GUI IDEs so that might not be your thing.

    If you want a fun, short read about why you might want to reconsider the command line, check out In the Beginning Was the Command Line [] by Neal Stephenson

Always leave room to add an explanation if it doesn't work out.