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Code Editor in the Cloud

Mozilla Labs lauches Bespin, a cloud-based, collaborative code editor.

A fully-functional code editor that resides in the cloud is something that I’ve been dreaming about for awhile now. The idea of being able to open a public project and easily edit it in a familiar environment from any computer without SSHing into the server is very appealing to me.

There have been a couple of attempts on the web to do something like this but they’ve been a little too simple. Now, however, Mozilla Labs has announced the launch of Bespin, a full-featured, collaborative code editor that resides in the cloud. And before you even ask, support for vi and emacs mode is built-in.

Appropriately named after a planet in the Star Wars universe, Bespin overcomes many of hurdles of writing a fast, responsive online text editor by using the <canvas> tag, the HTML element for writing programmable graphics. When you consider the canvas tag has been around since Firefox 1.5, it’s a wonder someone hadn’t thought of this before. Check out the video below that introduces the project and talks about some of the technology behind the project.

Bespin is still very much in alpha (syntax highlighting for HTML and Javascript at this time) but it’s also very cool. You can take it for a test drive here and mess around with their sample project. The site claims you will be able to access any public code repository soon.

Comments on "Code Editor in the Cloud"

youngkin

I guess I’m missing the point. I don’t XP so that use case is out. Why else would I use this instead of something like NetMeeting or some other IM tool?

Cheers,
Rich

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bryanjrichard

Couple of things: the collaborative aspect is only one part of it and doesn’t need to be used if you don’t want to. I think what’s interesting here is they have built was is probably going to be a really fast, flexible code editor in the cloud. That’s something I would definitely use. If I can avoid local software, I will. Yes, yes, “data, privacy, et al.” Don’t care. Privacy is a myth.

The other thing is that I’ve been pretty anti-eXtreme Programming since I first encountered it back in 2000-1 or thereabouts. Programming is performed by solitary types, so naturally it should be a solitary activity. Right? Maybe. I’ve been using Google Docs a lot lately for non-programming tasks and you’d be surprised what you can accomplish when you’re working in a shared environment and everyone is on the same page. Maybe I need to rethink my stance on XP…

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