User Interfaces have changed a lot since I’ve used a computer for the first time - text-based ones, powered with ncurses and TurboVision have been replaced by windows (forms, tforms, dialogs, whatever you prefer), we had a touch- and natural- interfaces revolution, now we have completely new design principles for building applications for mobile devices. There are also UIs optimized for controllers like Leap Motion of (most recently) Oculus Rift (http://www.oculusvr.com/). Applications of modern day look completely different from what we knew years ago. But there’s one category of software that didn’t change much in terms of looks, usability and general usage concept: IDEs!
Isn’t it funny? It’s programmers that make all those new shiny dashboards and metro-styled UIs, but for their own work they still keep the layouts invented decades ago. If I compare Eclipse now and Eclipse 13 years ago -> it’s clearly the same application, you acknowledge that at the first glimpse.
Anyway, I’m not gonna dive into reasons of that - instead I’d like to introduce you to something that may change the world of IDEs a bit:
Light Table (http://www.lighttable.com/)
It has all started with Chris Granger’s blog post (http://www.chris-granger.com/2012/04/12/light-table—-a-new-ide-concept/) and a Kickstarter project that has followed (http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/ibdknox/light-table) - this one occurred to be a tremendous success and was successfully founded.
The basic idea is to create a modern “work surface” for programmers - the place where they could do their work in a clean and comfortable way - structure it the way they want (without being tied to traditional directories and files), observe the information they expect to be presented with (in non-intrusive way, and no redundant information!), navigate freely in an intuitive and efficient way that maximizes productivity.
How does it look alike? Here’s how:
If you want the list of features, there are some dedicated blog posts that describe particular versions:
- 0.2.0 - http://www.chris-granger.com/2012/11/05/meet-the-new-light-table/
- 0.3.0 - http://www.chris-granger.com/2013/02/27/light-table-030-experience/
- 0.4.0 - http://www.chris-granger.com/2013/04/28/light-table-040/
- 0.5.0 - http://www.chris-granger.com/2013/08/22/light-table-050/
- 0.6.0 - http://www.chris-granger.com/2014/01/07/light-table-is-open-source/
What are the key points?
- The list of OSes supported: OS X, Win, Linux
- It looks really, really promising - to get a grip on how it feels to use it, you can check an up-to-date tutorial here: http://docs.lighttable.com/tutorials/full/ , but …
- … even as the progress is clearly visible, it’s more than obvious that there’s still a lot of work to be done and the product is far from “complete”.
The last point may be a reason why the creators have finally open sourced Light Table - maybe they look for either external inspiration or just bunch of helpful hands to aid the project.
If you feel like you have enough time to support the big project that have a real chance to actually change something and if you find yourself capable in Clojure (yes, LT is developed in that abomina…, erhm, language) -> you won’t have any better opportunity: