For a while, I’ve moaned about the fact that the only decent collaborative editing software was SubEthaEdit, an application which only runs on the OS X platform. I’d discussed with the developers the possibility of releasing even the protocol for the application, so that other tools could interact with it, but no interest was shown in doing so. As a result, I did some small amount of work on the “FortyTwo” project - a play off SubEthaEdit and the Hitchiker’s Guide.
However, a couple days ago I was pointed to something that may soon strike fear into the hearts of the Coding Monkeys: MoonEdit, a Windows, Linux, and FreeBSD application which is free for non-commercial use.
Although it lacks a bit of the glitz and glamour that SEE sports, MoonEdit features a couple things which make it immensely better for collaborative editing of documents:
* History feature, which allows you to roll back to any point in the edit stream, from the first character to the final punctuation mark.
* Full document zoom: simply hit f12 to see a summary view of the whole document, allowing you to easily keep an eye on what’s changing.
* Standalone server mode, allowing you to set up editing of documents on a server easily.
* Macros built into the application.
* Most importantly, Windows support.
Now, collaborative editing is open to the other 97% of the world that doesn’t have a PC. Unfortunately, this app isn’t yet available on the mac platform. I’ve contacted the author, first asking where I can send him money for a donation, and secondly asking if there’s anything I can do to help create a Mac version of the program. With a mac port, it really would become a SEE killer: not as a generalized editor, but as a collaborative one.
To be perfectly honest, I have no idea how this application works. It’s a tiny, static binary - source is not available: me: ELF 32-bit LSB executable, Intel 80386, version 1, statically linked, corrupted section header size, total size 129,401 bytes. I didn’t realize things still came that small. However, I can tell you that using this application is extremely cool. What it lacks in polish, it makes up for in usability, both due to wider platform distribution and to the History feature. You can also save documents with full history, allowing you to open them offline and read through the changes that were made.
MoonEdit is the way of the future. If I can get a Mac binary out of the author, I will be an extremely happy camper. If you’re using a mac and want to have a cross platform collaborative editing program, you may want to send an email to the author as well, asking for support; I haven’t gotten a response yet, but given significant motivation (Think $$) most coders will take care of their audience.