Mozilla Labs released a really exciting Open Source project this month called Bespin. It’s still in an extremely early alpha stage right now, but it looks promising and really gets the imagination going. There’s a great video by the developers about what Bespin is all about, but the real highlight is near the end when they talk about different scenarios in which Bespin could be used.
Right now Bespin only works on FireFox and the WebKit Nightly builds. Bespin is “using exciting new technology in HTML 5 that only leading browsers have implemented”. This is the message you receive when you use anything but FireFox or WebKit nightly to access the Bespin editor. They are using some advanced features of the canvas tag and there has been some controversy over their choice. Ajaxian has great article on the reasons for choosing canvas.
Since Bespin is using cutting edge web standards it will probably work in most browsers by the time it is at a production level and ready for the masses. WebKit is the engine that powers Google’s Chrome and Apple’s Safari, so it is only a matter of time before we see Bespin working in these browsers and any browser that supports the HTML 5 spec.
Internet Explorer fails again
Of course Internet Explorer 8 is coming out soon and it’s already behind the times and does not support the canvas tag at all. I don’t really see this as an issue as most Web Designers have long ago given up on this browser and since this is targeted at web designers and developers it should be a non-issue.
Working in the cloud
So what kind of things could we expect from Bespin in the future? Well I’m hoping it will be able to integrate into your website and hopefully as it grows it will gain things like source control and maybe even be integrated into some of the big content management systems out there. Think of working on your WordPress or Drupal theme in one browser tab and your admin page in the other. Bespin is open source and being designed with scalability and extendability in mind. In the developer video they give an example of collaborative coding, where you can literally see code changing in real-time in one screen while a developer types in the other. This would be great for training, code walkthroughs and tandem trouble shooting.
Bespin is far from being anything more than a fun tool to play around with right now, but the potential and imagination is there. This is definitely a project to keep your eye on.