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11 years ago

Bespin User's Guide


What Is Bespin?

Bespin aims to be a top-of-the-line text editor that lives in your browser. It is based on the latest web standards that are shipping in modern browsers.


Bespin requires a "modern browser" with support for HTML5 and specifically the Canvas element with the ability to draw text. Our current list of supported browsers is:

  • Firefox 3.5+
  • Chrome 2.0+
  • Safari 4.0+

How Can I Use Bespin?

To use Bespin as your editor, select "My Account" from JGate's header menu. Then select Bespin as your preferred editor.

Getting Help

Beyond this documentation, Bespin also has mailing lists and a feedback forum. Take a look at the Bespin Project homepage for links to these resources.

Getting Started

Create a new application or edit one of your existing ones. After the IDE has loaded, your screen will look something like this:


The top part of the window is the editor itself. At the bottom of the screen is a command line, which you use to make Bespin do all kinds of things. When the cursor is in the command line, the command output is displayed. By default, when you're editing the output is not displayed so that you get more room for editing. There's a little pin in the upper left of the output window that you can click to pin the output and make it visible all the time.

Command Line


Beyond basic typing, everything you do in Bespin is controlled by a "command". Commands can be entered on the command line, or invoked by keyboard control.

Over time, we expect to build additional user interface for working with commands. For now, it's enough to know that commands are how Bespin gets things done.

The help command is a useful command to know: it will list all of the commands available to you right now. This Users Guide will mention some commands in the context of larger topics, but the up-to-date list of commands is available via help.

Command List

Keyboard Control

Bespin's keyboard controls are very configurable. A command can provide a default key binding. Those bindings can be changed by keymapping plugins and further through configurations that you set.

Any keybindings mentioned in this guide are subject to change by plugins and configuration, so keep that in mind. Also, if we talk about cmd-J, that means cmd-J on the Mac and ctrl-J on Windows.

Speaking of cmd-J, that is an incredibly useful shortcut. That will bounce you back and forth between the editor and the command line. Since the command line is an important part of Bespin's UI, you'll want to be able to get there without having to reach for the mouse.


Our plan is to make Bespin a very configurable editor. You can see the list of available settings and change them by using the set command. It's important, that settings are used the same on all instances of Bespin.

Bespin's History

The Bespin project was created by Ben Galbraith and Dion Almaer in 2008 and then brought to Mozilla Labs at the end of that year. Following the first public release in February 2009, the Bespin team (now a combination of Mozilla employees and open source contributors) produced a series of releases up to version 0.4.4 in September 2009. After that, the project "rebooted" the client side code to build a newer, better structure for adding the planned features. In November 2009, the first reboot code was released as Bespin Embedded 0.5. In April 2010, Bespin 0.7 became the first rebooted client/server release.

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