As you said it can be used to put test code up on the fly so to speak so long as you have access to a browser.
True. It's pretty limited what I would be able to do without uploading to hardware. I do sometimes help people out with issues related to boards I don't own but there can be a big difference between "It compiles" and "It works".
Troubleshooting a sketch with lets say a friend. Sure you can email the sketch and have to load it up each time something changes.
I guess that would be useful. I'm much more of a fan of using GitHub to collaborate but that doesn't integrate directly into an IDE and is not as beginner friendly. If someone is struggling with Arduino they probably don't want to learn how to use GitHub at the same time.
There are more libs "out of the box" than the regular IDE.
The only downside of that is you have to see the invalid category warning for those 5 libraries on every single compile. Those libraries would cause the same warning if you installed them in the standard IDE but I'll probably never use any of them. The frustrating thing is I fixed all those libraries a year ago but their authors haven't made a new release since so the warnings still happen. I guess I need to open issue reports in those repositories to make that happen.
I am seeing that they are often required to be more defined on Create as some that compile under the regular IDE may not always compile first time under CREATE. Many times it has been down to a poorly maintained lib. So I can see that area becoming an issue in the short term but leading to much better libs at the end of the day.
I might start watching the Create forum section for that sort of thing. Usually these fixes are super simple so it's easy enough for me to submit a quick pull request. That's the sort of thing where I want to be convinced that I should start caring about the web editor. If I can be sold that there are benefits I'll start making more of an effort to contribute to the development.
I have read some of the older posts in the forum about a central repo for libs
I think that idea had some fatal flaws and has been completely replaced by the much better Library Manager concept. The only problem with Library Manager is it requires the code to be on GitHub(which is the same for the previous idea) but that's not a huge issue since pretty much all Arduino library repositories are already on GitHub.
Compilation times. These can vary by computer hardware but I often found it compiled and uploaded quicker than the regular IDE.
I don't mind the compile speed on AVR boards on my computer, though they are a few seconds slower now than they used to be on older IDE versions. I have some ESP8266 sketches that do take a long time to compile. If I could speed that up significantly with the web IDE that would be tempting to use for development when I'm doing a ton of compiles but that point is moot until they add support for 3rd party boards.
But CH340 boards again "work out of the box" That in and of itself is a major step forward for the online IDE...Driver issues may end up being a thing of the past. From my POV they pushed the CH340 out in a matter of days.
That's surprising since those are exclusively on their competition. They could actually do the same thing for the standard IDE by including those drivers but I've always assumed they wouldn't bother. Maybe they just need to be asked. Would certainly prevent a lot of the issues we see here on the forum.
Team wise it seems very small maybe 7 ?
IDE team is 5. That includes 00alis, the designer, who does much more on Create than the standard IDE. I'm pretty sure one of those 5 is a volunteer. So really there are 3 paid IDE team members. The lead developer for arduino-create-agent is one of those 3. A lot of their work goes into arduino-builder, which is the core of the web editor also but the people who work exclusively on Create don't do any work on arduino-builder.
the current open GIT is only about 1 year old.
The commit history of the arduino-create-agent repo actually goes back to 2014-01-30 but it was called serial-port-json-server at that time and was forked to arduino-create-agent. The first commit by an Arduino developer I'm familiar with is 2015-04-11 so that would be 1.5 years but arduino-create-agent is just one component of Create. A lot of the other stuff is not open source. This has been going on way longer than that. For example https://blog.arduino.cc/2014/08/12/news-and-updates-from-the-development-and-beta-testing-of-the-arduino-tre/ has a familiar picture:
That's right, an apparently working web editor over two years ago so you know the development started quite a while before that. "More than 100 beta-testers are involved in the program" so it wasn't just a quick design mockup.
They LISTEN...but not only do they listen they seem to quite often ACT.
That again is a MAJOR change in approach when you see our gripes about the forum or the seeming lack of interaction about the IDE on occasion.
The forum I agree, but the IDE I disagree. The IDE developers are very receptive to input/contributions that are made in a moderately coherent manner. The difference is they don't monitor the forum, you have to go to GitHub to get a response. The Create team does seem to be very responsive to their forum section which makes it much more accessible to all users. However, if you look way back in the forum to the early days you'll see the same was happening for the IDE development so we may see the level of engagement on the Create forum section drop off over time.
And not sure if you know but they use a lot of the existing IDE as base material
Pretty much only arduino-builder, which converts the sketch to fully functional code and pulls in the libraries. The whole web interface and the create-agent are completely separate. This is something I don't like, the web editor works differently than the standard IDE. I expected the interface to be basically the same. That means going back and forth is not so seamless.
BTW did you try turning on verbose ?
I haven't been able to upload but it appears that verbose output during compilation/upload are combined which I don't like. I always have verbose upload enabled so I can see what's going on but I only use verbose compilation when I need to do some troubleshooting of the build process because it's mostly not useful information otherwise.
A benefit that I had somewhat hoped the web editor might provide is Chrome OS/iOS/Android support, not that I have any use for that. However from reading a comment you made earlier on another thread it sounds like that's not the case.
One thing I noticed earlier that I really like is that you can add tabs for any file type. This is great because you can add tabs for documentation and development notes, which I currently do with tabs in the standard IDE but it doesn't allow me to use the appropriate extension.
I do think the web editor is a good thing in itself but the trouble is there are limited development resources. The work put into Create has definitely come at the cost of the standard IDE. There has been a lot of progress in the standard IDE during the same time but if you watch the development it's not going full-time. There are hundreds of legitimate issues/pull requests in the IDE repository that apparently they don't have time to get to.