Wednesday, June 08, 2005

I've been playing with this interesting editor called Archy lately. Archy seems to be a better emacs, but uses python instead of lisp, and is entirely different in many (good according to me) ways. Things like dropping modal dialogues, modes, and a bunch of other annoying emacs "features" make Archy seem really interesting. However, it does have things like being able to highlight things in text, translate them, email them, google them, and the core feature of being able to Leap(TM) around. You'll understand what I mean when you run it for the first time. It's also got the Scheme-like or Smalltalk-like quality of acting as an editor/IDE - by this I mean that you type out your source code, highlight it, and go. I'm not sure how it would deal with editing a large codebase, but I'm going to bet that it could surprise me in the future. Sadly, it is only officially supported under Windows at the moment, but you can get the source for Linux and Mac if you want to try your hand at self compilation and a few other problems (see the Archy FAQ). I think another clear bonus point for Archy is that it (was, till he died recently) largely developed by Jef Raskin, the developer of the Mac, who was later exiled by Steve Jobs before he was exiled himself (and then exiled his exiler... politics). Raskin wrote the book (literally) on treating users' data humanely, and this program seems to epitomize this outreach to other developers. Think of the ultimate Mac - it's really hard to screw up, but doesn't get in your way. (Much.) Mr. Raskin also seems to really push accessability - you could use this program blind if you wanted to, because you won't touch the mouse a single time. This is sometimes a burden, but as "leaping" becomes a reflex, things get much easier. It's cool, takes a little while to get used to, is under heavy development, and is fun to play with. It's free, but not Free (it's currently under an open-source-like license that restricts copyrights to Raskin's institute who developed it), so you might as well give it a go.

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