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Thursday, February 12, 2009

Mozilla Announced “Bespin”To Increase Developer Productivity

Mozilla announced the launch of Bespin, a project within its Developer Tools Lab. Bespin is a Mozilla Labs experiment that proposes an open, extensible web-based framework for code editing that aims to increase developer productivity, enable compelling user experiences, and promote the use of open standards.

After discussing with hundreds of developers, and based on its own experience developing for the Open Web, Mozilla come up with a proposed set of features along with some high-level goals:

  • Ease of Use — the editor experience should not be intimidating and should facilitate quickly getting straight into the code
  • Real-time Collaboration — sharing live coding sessions with colleagues should be easy and collaboratively coding with one or more partners should Just Work
  • Integrated Command-Line — tools like vi and Emacs have demonstrated the power of integrating command-lines into editors; Bespin needs one, too
  • Extensible and Self-Hosted — the interface and capabilities of Bespin should be highly extensible and easily accessible to users through Ubiquity-like commands or via the plug-in API
  • Wicked Fast — the editor is just a toy unless it stays smooth and responsive editing files of very large sizes
  • Accessible from Anywhere — the code editor should work from anywhere, and from any device, using any modern standards-compliant browser

As part of this announcement, Mozilla is also releasing an early experimental prototype to demonstrate some of the concepts of Bespin and the possibilities that it opens up.

Bespin 0.1

  • Initial prototype framework that includes support for basic editing features, such as syntax highlighting, large file sizes, undo/redo, previewing files in the browser, importing/exporting projects, etc.


Bespin 0.1 Running in Firefox 3.0

Screenshots of Bespin 0.1 running in modern, standards-compliant browsers

All of the source code underlying the Bespin experiment is released as open source software under the the MPL.

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