Bring the Web Editor Back to the Desktop

Since Writely, being able to edit documents with others has gone from some fancy new technology to being the standard in most web applications. It was "the thing" to work on a document with three others at the same time, and still is. But the trend seems to stick with web editors.

Gobby answers the call for a desktop editor. You can open the client and share any document in a real-time editor with anyone on your local network or the Internet. Edits are highlighted, so everyone can see who edited what.


It's does a lot more than what you see in the image, being particularly good at editing code in groups. It's the equivalent of a real-time version control system, without the revisions. Edits are merged instantly, so you can see where text is being changed.

Gobby uses the client/server model for sharing. One user starts the server on their system, and everyone else can find it by searching the local network. This makes it very easy to set up on a local network, but is a disadvantageous over the Internet. Port forwarding must be set up properly for others to be able to connect to it over the web. This is the area where a web-based application would be better in ease of use.

In addition to the main editing window, Gobby also provides a chat pane to discuss any edits being made. You can also create a password on your username, though it will only apply to the computer that is serving everything.

Overall, Gobby provides a great way to work in a collaborative situation. It is most useful on a local network or in an office environment, where setup takes only a few clicks. Since there is no Gobby service on the Internet, worldwide connections may take a little longer to set up. It still is a very handy tool to have around when you want to get help on code.

Avatar for jacob Jacob Peddicord -

Jacob is a web developer, student, and programmer from Ohio. He is a staff member at the Ubuntu Forums and is most likely a fanboy of the distribution. He loves to write in code and words, play video games, and rant about topics most would have abandoned long ago. Jacob uses GNOME and is never seen running stable software, much to the demise of his laptop.

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Discussion: Bring the Web Editor Back to the Desktop

  1. Jamey (guest)

    # Posted on 31 January 2008 at 06:45 AM

    Gobby is really a great little editor, and invaluable within the niche it fills. Since I really love this little tool, I just wanted to kick in my two cents to your already excellent introduction to it.

    An Ajax frontend keeps being proposed to largely deal with the internet connectivity setup hassles you mention (though they are minor.) Hopefully we'll see it soon.

    I just wanted to point out that using your imagination with gobby can yield some pretty interesting results. For example, consider ways you have of mounting your web host as a drive, then collaboratively editing in real time on your server. One can use various Fuze modules to mount ssh (wonderful for this) or ftp (ok, depending on your host) for example.

    If you try this just make sure you edit a copy in a test directory and that you understand the security risk of letting people work on live documents in your server (password protected sessions, carefully watched, only trusted people allowed.) For similar security reasons I wouldn't suggest running gobby at the server, but that's largely up to you. (Running it on a test server is another issue entirely and may be wonderful for your team.)

    In many situations, when used this way, gobby is an amazing way to get complex site work done very fast.

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