Bespin 0.1: Mozilla's Collaborative Web Code Editor

Feb 13, 2009

Firefox provider Mozilla has released a new Web development tool called Bespin. The project should not only make programming Web applications easier, but make it a collaborative effort worldwide.

Mozilla promises through its Bespin code editor that Web designers can more quickly and easily rework large amounts of data, even when distributed across the globe. Mozilla began the project in October 2008 with the core group of Ajax experts Dion Almaer and Ben Galbraith. In an introductory video on their project page, the two developers show the current results of their work: "As part of this announcement, we’re also releasing an early experimental prototype to demonstrate some of the concepts of Bespin and the possibilities that it opens up." Ease of use is one of Mozilla's priorities: "The editor experience should not be intimidating and should facilitate quickly getting straight into the code," according to the project page.

The alpha version already provides essential editing possibilities. Examples include syntax highlighting, undo/redo, previewing files in the browser and importing/exporting projects. Real-time collaboration allows colleagues to share live coding sessions. Even command line users will get editor tools akin to vi and Emacs. The Bespin team especially wants people involved and to provide suggestions. Users can extend functionality through the plug-in API and Ubiquity-like commands. "All of the source code underlying the Bespin experiment is being released as open source software under the MPL," or Mozilla Public License, according to the project page.

The Bespin 0.1 release is primarily and quite explicitly a prototype. A demo, video, the source code and further details are available on the Bespin webpage. Mozilla requests community test feedback to Mozilla Labs.

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