Interregional Software Development Week, Day 6: Collaborative Editting

On this last day of the interregional software development week I’d like to talk about editting text files with other people, simultaneously. I mentioned earlier that version control systems can merge changes to text files, but what I’ll talk about is even cooler.

Imagine this: you and a couple of others are on a Skype call and all have an editor in front of you. In this editor you can see the other people’s cursors moving and you can see them type. You’re all working on the same file simultaneously and you can see and talk about what you’re editting. Wouldn’t that be cool?

Well, it’s possible. There are two software products I know of that do this: “SubEthaEdit”: for the Mac and “MoonEdit”: for Windows and other Unix platforms. Both are free for non-commercial use. If you want to use it for commercial use SubEthaEdit costs $35. MoonEdit’s commercial price is unknown, you’d have to contact the author.

“SubEthaEdit”: is the pretty boy of the two and also has quite some more features than MoonEdit:


In order to use SubEthaEdit all you need is a Mac for each team member and an internet connection. Those who are on the same network can connect to eachother using Rendezvous (Apple’s auto-discovery networking module), others probably have to type in an IP of one of the other users (but I’m not really sure).

On its own SubEthaEdit has quite a lot neat editting features, such as colour coding, code auto completion and regular expression search.

The trouble is that it’s Mac only, which leaves you (if you’re not lucky enough to own a Mac) with MoonEdit.

“MoonEdit”: is a much simpeler editor, written using a very weird-looking UI kit:


MoonEdit functions either through a shared file (for example if you’re on the same network, using NFS shares) or through a MoonEdit server. One of the users starts an instance of a MoonEdit server, others can connect to it, there is no configuration to be done (usually).

I’ve used MoonEdit myself a couple of times and it works fine. It’s a bare-bone editor so don’t expect fancy features like colour coding or code completion. But the good thing is that it works and works on many platforms.