Chris Schmidt (crschmidt) wrote,
Chris Schmidt

An open letter to the CodingMonkeys

The CodingMonkeys are the members of the team who have created the incredibly successful SubEthaEdit program. Recieving high praise from all users of the program, this truly is the "Killer app" of Pair Programming or Extreme Programming over long geographic distances.

However, there is no equivalent program on any platform other than OS X.

Almost any programmer that has used SEE can attest to its usefulness - and how the lack of a similar program on other platforms has been, if not a burden, at least a distinct lack.

This lack can not remain unfulfilled forever. Personally, I would like to see the SubEthaEdit protocol publicly documented, so that other programs of a similar nature can communicate with SubEthaEdit. I have written a proposal to the CodingMonkeys as to why the SubEthaEdit protocol should be documented and released.

An open letter to the CodingMonkeys:

The SubEthaEdit protocol is based on BEEP, an open protocol designed to be easily extensible. However, the SubEthaEdit profile URIs do not contain information on the format of these messages as described the by the BEEP. Additionally, there is no published protocol describing how SubEthaEdit communicates with other clients. This lack of documentation is limiting in many ways. Releasing protocol documentation would be useful to the community at large, as well as to the installed and possible future userbase of the SubEthaEdit program.

SubEthaEdit is a valuable community tool. It offers the ability to do distributed PairProgramming - a valuable ability in an open source world where programmers are increasingly distributed over large geographical distances. It is, without a doubt, the killer application in its field - there is no competition, and there is no doubt that SEE has established itself as an invaluable tool in the Macintosh world. However, the major complaint regarding SubEthaEdit is the fact that there is no client which can connect to SEE servers on other platforms. As such, the creation of a tool similar to SubEthaEdit for other platforms is inevitable.

It is clear that creating and maintaining other versions of SubEthaEdit is beyond the scope and realm of the CoderMonkeys, which would only detract from further SubEthaEdit development. This is apparent in the FAQ - no efforts at developing a product for other platforms are in the works, and there is no movement elsewhere on the web towards creating this type of application. The CoderMonkeys team creating alternative versions is not ideal. Instead, if the development could be passed off to a set of experienced developers in other arenas: Gtk, Visual Basic, etc. - the application could be extended, with no need to detract from the original SubEthaEdit.

The opening up of the SubEthaEdit protocol would be a way to encourage development of other, compatible applications, which in turn will only lead to increased use of the SubEthaEdit program itself. As a larger installed userbase exists, the program will become popularized, and so long as all clients cross platform can communicate with each other using the same protocol, there will be an increased desire for each application on each platform - which includes SubEthaEdit. As the CoderMonkeys have no desire to develop on other platforms, no revenue stream for these platforms is lost.

If the SubEthaEdit protocol remains closed, there is a possibility that SubEthaEdit will remain the sole editor on the platform. However, due to the need for a cross-platform editing tool of this nature, it seems unlikely that an editor of this type will maintain its position as the sole editor of its kind. By opening the SubEthaEdit protocol, the CodingMonkeys will provide a valuable resource to the community, while making their applicatoin far ahead of the game both in cross platform compatibility - which will become important - and UI, which it has already proven itself to be well in control of.

For this reason, we respectfully request that the protocol SubEthaEdit uses to communicate is made public, so that the community at large, as well as the CodingMonkeys in particular, can benefit from this protocol and the applications derived from it.

Christopher Schmidt

If you wish to add your voice into this debate, feel free. I would be interested in hearing thoughts on either side of this issue - for or against the public release of such a protocol. However, it should be made clear that such a tool will exist on other platforms eventually, with or without the help of the originators of SubEthaEdit.
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