You might have guessed how much I love social coding and development by now (ha ha), so today I want to take a closer look at Bespin, Mozilla Labs' open Web-based framework for code collaboration.
The tech preview release went public Friday, Feb. 13, with quite a splash. "Coding in the cloud" sounds very attractive, but what does that actually mean? The blogs I've seen so far are just a cut and paste of the feature list and an embedded video. I'm going to include the video to set the table, but I want to focus on two questions: What are the advantages of Bespin, and what are the disadvantages of this first release?
The advantages are instantly clear. The editor isn't intimidating, and it eliminates a lot of the distractions that plague other IDEs so you can focus on the code. It includes an integrated command line, which probably won't get me to stop using vi, but it will give fans of Emacs something else to loath. Bespin appears to be very extensible, and I certainly like the flexibility and all that, but the two things I like most about the tech preview are that it's "accessible anywhere" and it's "wicked fast." It really performed for me in my initial test.
Screenshots of Bespin 0.1 running in modern, standards-compliant browsers