As we strive to evolve the Open Web as a robust platform for application development, we believe in the potential for web-based code editors to increase developer productivity, enable compelling user experiences, and promote the use of open standards.
Just as Mozilla enables massive innovation by making Firefox open on many levels, we hope to do the same with Bespin by developing an extensible framework for Open Web development. We’re particularly excited by the prospect of empowering Web developers to hack on the editor itself and make it their own.
Bespin 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.
Based upon discussions with hundreds of developers, and our own experience developing for the Open Web, we’ve 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
The Initial Prototype
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.
- 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.
Screenshots of Bespin 0.1 running in modern, standards-compliant browsers
Mozilla Labs is a virtual lab where people come together online to create, experiment and play with Web innovations for the public benefit. The Bespin experiment is still in its infancy and just getting started. There are many ways to join the team and get involved:
- Play around with the demo and let us know what you think
- Report a bug
- Grab the source code and fix a bug or add a feature
- Discuss, debate and add to the design in the Bespin discussion group
- Join us in #bespin on irc.mozilla.org