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collaborate codeIn my operating systems class, we have 8 projects for the semester, all of which must be completed in groups of 2. These labs are time-consuming to say the least, and the last thing any of us students want to do is rot together for 30 hours sitting in the university computer labs for each project. Thus, we decided to look for time-saving tools and give real-time text editors a try. Turns out, they’ve been extremely helpful, saving us from having to meet face-to-face. One such product is Stypi, a Y Combinator-backed collaborative text editor for programmers.

There are other editors that can prove useful to remote teams, like PiratePad, and PrimaryPad. is the first one that my project partner and I tried. Stypi was the one that stuck because we could not afford to keep having syncing issues and unfortunately losing data with other text editors. In the time that we used Stypi, we distinguished some very helpful features that we will discuss further in a moment.

Like I mentioned, there are many other editors that are suitable for remote teams and allow real-time editing. One of the real-time collaborative tools The 6 Best Free Online Meeting Tools to Collaborate with Your Team The 6 Best Free Online Meeting Tools to Collaborate with Your Team Small teams don't need expensive enterprise apps for collaboration. Here are six fantastic tools that you can use to manage your team's data, communication, and more. For free. Read More that garnered quite a bit of attention when Google acquired it for integration with Google Wave is EtherPad that we covered a few years back. The service has since shut down, and so has Wave, but the need for real-time document editors for remote teams remains very much alive.

Stypi can satisfy the needs of such remote teams with three distinctive panes. The one on the left is an area where the most recently accessed files will be displayed, while the larger center pane constitutes the editor that you will spend a lot of your time in. The right pane is the area that you can make use of to chat with your colleagues in real time.

collaborate code

When you first visit the Stypi website, you are given a secret URL automatically. If you register for an account, which is just a matter of typing your email, a username and a password, you can keep track of all your secret URLs and source code files. One of the features that code editors will find pleasant in Stypi is syntax highlighting, so your C/C++, Java, or other code will be nicely dressed up in colors, ready for easier digesting. You can bring up the syntax highlighting option by pressing on Settings, which also offers font and color options to make your coding area less dull.


collaborative programming

You also have the option to replay the changes that were made to the current source code file. This ensures that any absent team member can get up-to-date with the code, or that any present colleague that missed a line of code can quickly see what changed in the file.

collaborate code

I’ve used this service for at least 3 projects, so I’ve noticed a few things that could improve Stypi. In the chat area, for example, everything is text-based, so even if you type an URL, it won’t be clickable (yet). Another small detail is that code isn’t color-coded by author, something that most other regular real-time document editors seem to have (or at least the ones that I’ve mentioned at the beginning). I’ve also found some glitches when I create a new file and even give it a new name, but the code area remains unchanged, displaying the code of the last opened file. A page refresh seems to solve the issue though. The service was just released around September of last year, so sooner or later, it’s bound to add some features that I’m mentioning at the moment.

If you’re interested in checking out additional real-time text editors, be sure to also check CollabEdit, which I’ve found to nicely support syntax highlighting, which should be a delight for coding teams.

Do you use real-time document editors? Share your favorite tool in the comments section below.

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  1. Rachel
    March 15, 2012 at 7:36 pm

    Hi Jessica,

    Squad ( is another Real-time platform to try.

    Some of the features: unlimited collaborators, syntax highlighting with multiple color modes and line numbering, more than 15 programming languages currently supported, multiple files open simultaneously, and it is web-based and persistent so workspaces are available to you on any computer, even if you forget to sign out of an open location.

    • Jessica Cam Wong
      March 27, 2012 at 6:10 am

      Rachel, thank you for the suggestion. Squad looks like a neat site, but it only allows a 10-day free trial, which is a bit too short in my opinion. Stypi already offers some of the same features for free, but I suppose Squad has some more advanced features that could justify the monthly fee.

      Have you used it? Could you tell us why you preferred Squad over other free real-time editors?

  2. Awesome Lazy Geek
    March 6, 2012 at 6:31 am

    This is so cool, thanks for the info.

    • Jessica Cam Wong
      March 27, 2012 at 6:12 am

      Glad you're enjoying the article. Please feel free to share this article with your friends!

  3. Jake
    March 6, 2012 at 4:16 am

    Great article! I use Cloud9 IDE for my projects and my html5 game development series on youtube. I love how Cloud9 syncs with my websites FTP so easily and it has team collaboration as well.

    • Jessica Cam W.
      March 11, 2012 at 3:35 am

      Cloud9 looks very promising! Thanks for suggesting it. 

  4. Maureen
    March 6, 2012 at 3:05 am

    Thank you for writing about this new collaborative writing tool. I'm not a coder, but a writer/editor who frequently works with others on documents. This looks very interesting. I'll definitely keep it in mind if Titanpad (another of the Etherpad implementations) doesn't work out.

    • Jessica Cam W.
      March 11, 2012 at 2:24 am

      Titanpad looks great! 

      For real-time, collaborative document editing (not necessarily code editing), has worked for me as well.

  5. Jonathan Almeida
    March 6, 2012 at 2:29 am

    An age old version is also

    • Jessica Cam W.
      March 11, 2012 at 2:20 am

      Great suggestion! Thank you!