Friday, 8 December 2006

Texty texty

Texty texty

Was reading Simon Willison's Weblog and he posted up about an really simple full-screen, auto-saving, free text editor called WriteRoom. It looks really nice - really classic. It's definately going on my mac at home.

Further down in the comments left was a post by a certain Steve Ballmer about a similar editor for Windows called Dark Room. I'm actually using it to write this blog post and it really is sweet. For a start it's got an opacity filter to the background so you can see what's happening on your desktop. I'm sorry but that's just like geek porn. Ironically you could actually run a movie in the background and watch it through the editor whilst working on a document. Mmmmm. Coupled with the auto-save feature that it uses means that this thing is actually making Narg breathe a little deeply and wriggle in his chair. Of course there's the small matter of the CEO of Microsoft posting comments on your blog - cause for celebration.

I'm a big fan of these small software apps that people write and release freeware or under OSS licenses - they really do push the larger tech companies with the ideas they promote. Much of the underlying architecture of really famous bits of software has been pushed by small ideas over the course of software history. Look no farther than Internet Explorer - the current most widely used web browser was actually developed primarily from the Spyglass Mosaic browser around 1995. Spyglass Mosaic actually licensed technology from the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) - technology which was designed for a UNIX web browser and released under very generous licensing. This is why there's a credit to NCSA Mosaic in Internet Explorer. You can find this for yourself by going to "Help --> About Internet Explorer" in Internet Explorer itself. Very funky.

This does go to show that small teams of developers can have large impacts farther down the line. I'd like to think that at some stage I'll write a piece of software - a website, an interface or an appliation - that will have this impact. I think that would be a real sense of satisfaction. I believe in my heart that this is going to happen with the Chamonix Valley website. There are some really sound ideas coming forward and oppertunity to realise these things. Earlier this week the first nerves about moving to a foreign country were felt - the first butterflies in the stomach, but in reflection it wasn't apprehension of the unknown, but the realisation that there's the chance to do something to have a positive impact on a lot of people. Awesome. Bring it on. Feel the love baby.

Further reading:
Mosaic web browser
History of Internet Explorer
Internet Explorer Homepage