In this post, I'm going to be talking about my views and opinions on Replit. Before I get started though, do not harass anybody at Replit for what I say in this post. I will also be respecting the Replit staff and keeping names anonymous where possible.
Ok. First, I need to explain what Replit is.
In simple terms, Replit is a free online IDE that allows you to easily code online with a community and great collaboration features.
For a more in-depth answer, we need to go back in time.
Replit was created by Amjad Masad (amasad) in 2009 for people to easily share code.
I would see students and professors using Word docs to send code around. It felt backwards. - Amjad Masad 2022 (ReplCon 2022 Keynote)
MS Word was being used to share code between teachers and students in 2009. The main reason for Replit's existence is to make sharing code easy. Does Replit do that though? Yes. It does. For years, the primary method of creating repls, coding them, publishing and sharing has remained exactly the same. Until the near future. But we'll get to that later.
I have many conflicting opinions on Replit. First, let's take a look at why I started using Replit and how I found it.
I created my Replit account on December 29, 2020 at 6:05:42 PM UTC/GMT. I originally came to the platform to host my Discord bot, Iyoid. It was a general purpose bot made with discord.py and I was so motivated adding features to it and decided I wanted to host it 24/7. Beforehand, I'd been hosting it on my computer when possible. This was before everyone was using Replit for Discord bots and it was actually really reliable - unless you were hosting a music bot, but that's a whole other story.
After I joined, I didn't really know about the community aspects for a long time. I first started interacting with the community in early 2022 or late 2021. Replit was one of my favourite websites as I loved what it stood for and the community was amazing. I started making more projects and learning new technologies. I often did this locally and used Replit for hosting, but I also used Replit for development often and it was really nice not having to deal with dependency nightmares and being able to share it without getting other people to interact with a terminal.
So that's the story of how I joined Replit. It was extremely different back then with a lot less features than it has today. I started paying for Hacker on June 2nd 2021 and I wish I could say that it had a lot less features than it does today, but that would be a lie.
Hacker Plan when I bought it:
Hacker Plan today:
Same price, but what's new and what's gone?
- -4 Boosted repls
- -4 Always on repls
- + SSH into Repls
We also now have 10GiB egress. This is't a new benefit, because there were no egress limits until a few days ago as I'm writing this.
We also got Generate Code, Explain Code and Transform Code as AI features before they got removed recently when Hacker plan got nerfed to make Replit more profitable.
I applied to become a Replit Rep for Cohort 1 in August 2022 and got accepted! I loved being a rep as I got to host fun events for the community. My favourite was the monthly Replit Showcase where me and TechPandaPro showcased projects that the Replit community had built each month. (Want to see the VODs? We have a YouTube channel @ReplitShowcase)
Being a rep wasn't without negatives though. Due to me expressing my honest opinions about Replit, I got into a bit of trouble with some Replit staff. This is the main reason I was rejected for cohort 2 as well. Replit want people who will always be publicly positive about the platform and not express their honest beliefs. Mentioning no names, I've seen current reps say positive things about Replit on social media (Discord/Slack/Twitter) and then come into a voice channel and be negative about them. Replit can't monitor voice channels on Discord without a bot or having a member of staff being present all of the time if the voice channel is in the server. Therefore, they have no way of knowing what reps actually think. Compare that to me, who can't talk in voice channels often, and you can see what the issue is. I talk mainly in text, and therefore have to express my opinions in text, where it stays forever and anyone can see it.
As well as being a rep, I've been a proud Repler in the community for a long time. The Discord server is one of my favourite places to be online because I can talk to people who have similar interests to me which I can't do in real life as there is nobody in my area with similar interests.
Not all was good though. Replit recently transferred ownership of the Discord server over to the head of the community team, Lena. Here is a doc about what happened there. This is clearly not a good thing.
And, last week, Replit transferred ownership of the Discord server to the community, recognising that they couldn't run it properly.
This is actually a really good change because the community knows how to best run the community. There's already been a few positive changes in the server as a result of this!
Important note: These are not finalised and we, the community, do NOT know what is going to happen. This is what we've been told is being considered, but it is NOT definite.
- paid deployment => you get your own domain that will stay alive forever, no replit branding
- free deployment => you can still share whatever you want, but it's in the cover page context and isn't always-on - A Replit engineer 7/2/23 17:00 UTC/GMT
This means that to host a website, even just a static website you can't. You can't open it in a new tab as Replit won't provide free hosting. You will be able to pay for hosting however and have a custom domain or a
.replit.app subdomain with it.
I think this is a really bad change because it removes what makes Replit Replit. It gets rid of the ease of sharing projects. Most people aren't going to pay for Replit's hosting, but instead go to other free alternatives such as GitHub Pages and Vercel. It's really easy to set these up via GitHub Actions/Apps and you can use Replit's Git pane or Shell to easily push to repositories and then the website will auto-deploy with the service of choice.
I think that Replit is on a tight line. I understand them increasing the prices as they have been making a loss for years. But getting rid of free site hosting with wake-ups is not achieving Replit's original goal of making code easy to share at all. If Replit continues in this direction, the community will get mad and many will go to alternatives such as GitHub Codespaces with a GitHub repository and a deployment service such as Vercel, Netlify or GitHub Pages. As much as it pains me to say it, I think I'll be leaving in that boat as well if something like this happens again. I'm extremely hopeful that Replit changes course and listens to the community, but how likely that is to happen, I don't know.
So, these are my thoughts on the state of Replit. What do you think? Leave your thoughts in the comments below! I'd love to hear what you have to say.