Who needs Web-based developer tools?
The Eclipse Foundation isn't the first organization to attempt a Web-based development environment. The Mozilla Foundation long maintained a similar effort. Initially known as Bespin, the project underwent several iterations and was eventually released as Mozilla Skywriter, then merged with a Web-based IDE developed by Ajax.org, called Cloud9.
The Cloud9 effort continues, but the Bespin and Skywriter developers learned many lessons along the way. Among them is one especially interesting nugget: As it turns out, the primary way in which developers share code is through the version control system, not through real-time collaboration. If that's true, then is the Eclipse Foundation's drive to build a collaborative, Web-based development platform a wasted effort?
Not really. I've tried out Web-based office productivity suites such as Google Docs and Microsoft Office 365, and I've been generally dissatisfied with them, just as I am with Orion. Still, I feel they have their place -- as enhancements to traditional desktop software, not replacements for it. As Orion matures, I expect it will find a similar niche.
A capable, open source, Web standards-based development suite is a worthwhile goal, if only so its components can be embedded into other Web applications. For the foreseeable future, however, the Orion team will have to pry VI and SubVersion from my cold, dead hands.
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