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Working with Shared Environments in AWS Cloud9

A shared environment is an AWS Cloud9 development environment that multiple IAM users have been invited to participate in.

A shared environment is good for:

  • Pair programming (also know as peer programming). This is where two users work together on the same code in a single environment. In pair programming, typically one user writes code while the other user observes the code being written. The observer gives immediate input and feedback to the code writer. These positions frequently switch during a project. Without a shared environment, teams of pair programmers typically sit in front of a single machine, and only one user at a time can write code. With a shared environment, both users can sit in front of their own machine and can write code at the same time, even if they are in different physical offices.

  • Computer science classes. This is useful when teachers or teaching assistants want to access a student's environment to review their homework or fix issues with their environment in real time. Students can also work together with their classmates on shared homework projects, writing code together in a single environment in real time. They can do this even though they may be in different locations using different computer operating systems and web browser types.

  • Any other situation where multiple users need to collaborate on the same code in real time.

This topic provides instructions for sharing an environment in AWS Cloud9 and how to participate in a shared environment.

About Environment Member Access Roles

Before you share an environment or participate in a shared environment in AWS Cloud9, you should understand the access permission levels for a shared environment. We call these permission levels environment member access roles.

A shared environment in AWS Cloud9 offers three environment member access roles: owner, read/write, and read-only.

  • An owner has full control over an environment. Each environment has one and only one owner, who is the environment creator. An owner can do the following:

    • Add, change, and remove members for the environment

    • Open, view, and edit files

    • Run code

    • Change environment settings

    • Chat with other members

    • Delete existing chat messages

    In the AWS Cloud9 IDE, an environment owner is displayed with Read+Write access.

  • A read/write member can do the following:

    • Open, view, and edit files

    • Run code

    • Change various environment settings from within the AWS Cloud9 IDE

    • Chat with other members

    • Delete existing chat messages

    In the AWS Cloud9 IDE, read/write members are displayed with Read+Write access.

  • A read-only member can do the following:

    • Open and view files

    • Chat with other members

    • Delete existing chat messages

    In the AWS Cloud9 IDE, read-only members are displayed with Read Only access.

Before an IAM user can become a environment owner or member, that user must meet one of the following criteria:

  • The user is an IAM administrator user in your AWS account. For more information, see Creating Your First IAM Admin User and Group in the IAM User Guide.

  • The user belongs to an IAM group in your AWS account, and that group has the AWS managed policy AWSCloud9Administrator or AWSCloud9User (or AWSCloud9EnvironmentMember, to be a member only) attached. For more information, see AWS Managed (Predefined) Policies.

To attach one of the preceding managed policies to a group, you can use the IAM console as follows.

  1. Sign in to the AWS Management Console, if you are not already signed in.

    For this step, we recommend you sign in using credentials for an IAM administrator user in your AWS account. If you cannot do this, check with your AWS account administrator.

  2. Open the IAM console. To do this, in the console's navigation bar, choose Services. Then choose IAM.

  3. Choose Groups.

  4. Choose the group's name.

  5. On the Permissions tab, for Managed Policies, choose Attach Policy.

  6. In the list of policy names, choose one of the following boxes:

    • AWSCloud9User (preferred) or AWSCloud9Administrator to enable each user in the group to be an environment owner

    • AWSCloud9EnvironmentMember to enable each user in the group to be a member only

    (If you don't see one of these policy names in the list, type the policy name in the Search box to display it.)

  7. Choose Attach policy.

Invite an IAM User to Your Environment

To invite an IAM user to your environment:

  1. Be sure the corresponding access policy is attached to the group containing the user you want to invite. For more information, see About Environment Member Access Roles.

  2. Sign in to AWS Cloud9 using the credentials of the environment owner, if you are not already signed in. For more information, see Step 4: Sign in to the AWS Cloud9 Console in Team Setup.

  3. Open the environment that you own and want to invite the user to, if the environment is not already open. For more information, see Opening an Environment in AWS Cloud9.

  4. In the menu bar in the AWS Cloud9 IDE, do one of the following:

    • Choose Window, Share.

    • Choose Share (located next to the Preferences gear icon).

      
                        The Share command in the AWS Cloud9 IDE menu bar
  5. In the Share this environment dialog box, for Invite Members, type the name of the IAM user you want to invite to this environment. The invited user must be within the same AWS account as the environment owner.

    Note

    In addition to inviting IAM users, you can invite the AWS root account and federated users within the same AWS account as the environment owner.

    To invite the AWS root account, type arn:aws:iam::ACCOUNT_ID:root.

    To invite a federated user, type arn:aws:sts::ACCOUNT_ID:federated-user/USER_NAME, where USER_NAME is the name of the federated user identified in IAM.

  6. To make this user a read-only member, choose R. To make this user read/write, choose RW.

  7. Choose Invite.

    Note

    If you make this user a read/write member, a dialog box is displayed, containing information about possibly putting your AWS security credentials at risk. The following information provides more background about this issue.

    You should share an environment only with those you trust.

    A read/write member may be able to use the AWS CLI or AWS SDK code in your environment to take actions in AWS on your behalf. Furthermore, if you store your permanent AWS access credentials within the environment, that member could potentially copy those credentials and use them outside of the environment.

    Removing your permanent AWS access credentials from your environment and using temporary AWS access credentials instead does not fully address this issue. It lessens the opportunity of the member to copy those temporary credentials and use them outside of the environment (as those temporary credentials will work only for a limited time). However, temporary credentials still enable a read/write member to take actions in AWS from the environment on your behalf.

  8. Contact the user to let them know they can open this environment and begin using it.

Note

The following entities can invite themselves to any environment in their AWS account:

  • The AWS root account.

  • An IAM administrator user (or user belonging to an IAM administrator group) or equivalent in their AWS account.

  • An IAM user (or user belonging to an IAM group) in their AWS account that has the AWS managed policy AWSCloud9Administrator or equivalent attached.

To invite themselves, these entities can use the AWS CLI to run the AWS Cloud9 create-environment-membership command, specifying the ID of the environment and the Amazon Resource Name (ARN) of the entity to invite. For example:

Copy

Open a Shared Environment

To open a shared environment, you use your AWS Cloud9 dashboard. You then use the AWS Cloud9 IDE to do things in a shared environment such as work with files and chat with other members.

  1. Be sure the corresponding access policy is attached to the group containing your user. For more information, see About Environment Member Access Roles.

  2. Sign in to AWS Cloud9, if you are not already signed in. For more information, see Step 4: Sign in to the AWS Cloud9 Console in Team Setup.

  3. Open the shared environment from your AWS Cloud9 dashboard. For more information, see Opening an Environment in AWS Cloud9.

You use the Collaborate window to interact with other members, as described in the rest of this topic.

Note

If the Collaborate window is not visible, choose the Collaborate button. If the Collaborate button is not visible, on the menu bar, choose Window, Collaborate.


            The Collaborate window in the AWS Cloud9 IDE

See a List of Environment Members

With the shared environment open, in the Collaborate window, expand Environment Members, if the list of members is not visible.

A circle next to each member indicates their online status, as follows:

  • Active members have a green circle

  • Offline members have a gray circle

  • Idle members have an orange circle


            Member online status in the AWS Cloud9 IDE

Open the Active File of an Environment Member

With the shared environment open, in the menu bar, choose the member name. Then choose Open Active File.


            The Open Active File command in the AWS Cloud9 IDE

Open the Open File of an Environment Member

  1. With the shared environment open, in the Collaborate window, expand Environment Members, if the list of members is not visible.

  2. Expand the name of the user whose open file you want to open in your environment.

  3. Double-click the name of the file you want to open.


            Opening a team member's file in the AWS Cloud9 IDE

Go to the Active Cursor of an Environment Member

  1. With the shared environment open, in the Collaborate window, expand Environment Members, if the list of members is not visible.

  2. Right-click the member name, and then choose Show Location.

Chat with Other Environment Members

With the shared environment open, at the bottom of the Collaborate window, for Enter your message here, type your chat message, and then press Enter.


            The chat area in the AWS Cloud9 IDE

View Chat Messages in a Shared Environment

With the shared environment open, in the Collaborate window, expand Group Chat, if the list of chat messages is not visible.

Delete a Chat Message from a Shared Environment

With the shared environment open, in the Collaborate window, right-click the chat message in Group Chat, and then choose Delete Message.

Note

When you delete a chat message, it is deleted from the environment for all members.

Delete All Chat Messages from a Shared Environment

With the shared environment open, in the Collaborate window, right-click anywhere in Group Chat, and then choose Clear history.

Note

When you delete all chat messages, they are deleted from the environment for all members.

Change the Access Role of an Environment Member

  1. Open the environment that you own and that contains the member whose access role you want to change, if the environment is not already open. For more information, see Opening an Environment in AWS Cloud9.

  2. In the Collaborate window, expand Environment Members, if the list of members is not visible.

  3. Do one of the following:

    • Next to the member name whose access role you want to change, choose R or RW to make this member owner or read/write, respectively.

    • To change a read/write member to read-only, right-click the member name, and then choose Revoke Write Access.

    • To change a read-only member to read/write, right-click the member name, and then choose Grant Read+Write Access.

      Note

      If you make this user a read/write member, a dialog box is displayed, containing information about possibly putting your AWS security credentials at risk. Do not make a user a read/write member unless you trust that user to take actions in AWS on your behalf. For more information, see the related note in Invite an IAM User to Your Environment.

Remove Your User From a Shared Environment

Note

You cannot remove your user from a environment if you are the environment owner.

Removing your user from a member does not remove your user from IAM.

  1. With the shared environment open, in the Collaborate window, expand Enviroment Members, if the list of members is not visible.

  2. Do one of the following:

    • Next to You, choose the trash can icon.

    • Right-click You, and then choose Leave environment.

  3. When prompted, choose Leave.

Remove Another Environment Member

Note

To remove any member other than your user from an environment, you must be signed in to AWS Cloud9 using the credentials of the environment owner.

Removing a member does not remove the user from IAM.

  1. Open the environment that contains the member you want to remove, if the environment is not already open. For more information, see Opening an Environment in AWS Cloud9.

  2. In the Collaborate window, expand Environment Members, if the list of members is not visible.

  3. Do one of the following:

    • Next to the name of the member you want to delete, choose the trash can icon.

    • Right-click the name of the member you want to delete, and then choose Revoke Access.

  4. When prompted, choose Remove Member.

Environment Sharing Best Practices

We recommend the following practices when sharing environments.

  • Only invite read/write members you trust to your environments.

  • For EC2 environments, read/write members can use the environment owner's AWS access credentials, instead of their own credentials, to make calls from the environment to AWS services. To prevent this, the environment owner can disable AWS managed temporary credentials for the environment. However, this also prevents the environment owner from making calls. For more information, see AWS Managed Temporary Credentials.

  • Turn on AWS CloudTrail to track activity in your environments. For more information, see the AWS CloudTrail User Guide.

  • Do not use your AWS root account to create and share environments. Use IAM users in the account instead. For more information, see First-Time Access Only: Your Root User Credentials and IAM Users in the IAM User Guide.