EtherPad goes open source
As promised earlier this month, the EtherPad developers have released all of the source code to their web-based realtime collaborative word processor service. According to a post on the EtherPad Blog, the "goal with this release is to let the world run their own EtherPad servers so that the functionality can live on even after we shut down etherpad.com". The EtherPad site will eventually shut down, following Google's acquisition of AppJet, because the developers are moving to the Google Wave development team.
EtherPad offers near real-time collaboration on documents, with updates happening as often as twice a second. This makes it a very responsive system which avoids many contention problems, such as deletions of text while others are editing, that can be an issue with collaborative applications. EtherPad focusses on plain text, with basic formatting (bold, italic, underline, strike through and indentation) with rapid feedback, whereas Google Wave allows richer text and embedded objects in its shared documents, but uses a deferred synchronisation mechanism to keep users up to date.
EtherPad source code is now available to download on Google Code and is released under version 2.0 of the Apache License. Instructions for compiling and running the EtherPad release are also provided.