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BrustBlog Pontifications on Microsoft and the Tech Industry

If you’re like me, you might see the open source Eclipse IDE as a copy or, more generously, a port of the Microsoft’s Visual Studio for the non-.NET world.  It’s not that Microsoft invented the IDE (I would credit Borland with that), but they really took the idea and ran with it for the first version of Visual Studio .NET in 2002.  The question is whether someone outside of Microsoft could take the modern IDE yet another major step forward in both principle and productivity.

I think that has actually happened already, and I think the innovator in question is a second-year Computer Science PhD student at Brown, named Andrew Bragdon.  His project, which he calls Code Bubbles, is an IDE that allows for editing, debugging and exploration of code in “bubbles” which remind me a little bit of the discrete note tiles on OneNote…but they’re much more than that. 

Bubbles actually allow for call stack traversal, saved debug sessions, sophisticated breakpoint and value watch behaviors and more.  And because bubbles, unlike windows, are borderless, and focus on code fragments rather than whole files, the de-cluttering effect is unbelievably liberating.  The best way to understand what Code Bubbles does is to watch the screencast video:

 

 

Code Bubbles is an IDE for Java development.  Why didn’t Microsoft come up with something like this for .NET devs?  Between the existing features in Visual Studio 2010, its WPF code editor, and the fact that OneNote’s UI bears some affinity to Code Bubbles’, it’s interesting that Microsoft still has not thought outside of its own “box” to get us something like this.

Heck, that’s easy for me to say.  But it’s easy for you to say that you’d like something like this in Visual Studio sometime soon.  That’s because the ASP.NET site within UserVoice is taking votes on this very issue.  Just click this link and vote!

Thanks to my fellow Microsoft Regional Director Sondre Bjellås for making me aware of Code Bubbles, and to RD Steve Smith for creating the UserVoice voting option.

Posted on Friday, March 12, 2010 11:20 PM | Back to top


Comments on this post: Code Bubbles: Disruption comes to the IDE

# re: Code Bubbles: Disruption comes to the IDE
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You hit the nail on the head with your question about why MS has not thought outside the box. I really hope they do emulate code bubbles, as it just seems insanely useful and intuitive to me. However, even if they do, that would just be one more instance of MS playing catch-up to real innovation: tabbed web browsing, the whole Silverlight thing, etc...
Left by G. Swallow on May 06, 2010 11:52 AM

# re: Code Bubbles: Disruption comes to the IDE
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His project, which he calls Code Bubbles, is an IDE that allows for editing, debugging and exploration of code in “bubbles” which remind me a little bit of the discrete note tiles on OneNote…but they’re much more than that.40th birthday party
Left by 40th birthday party on Apr 29, 2011 1:56 AM

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