My friend and I usually don't have time to meet up in person to do some real pair programming. Since we want to program together anyway, we turned to the world of collaborative software editing.

Sadly, most of the solutions we have tried are either lackluster or don't work at all. Cloud9 (fusion of Mozilla Skywriter, ACE) is tossing errors like there's no tomorrow and makes developing a project impossible.

Notepad++'s plugin seems to be broken.

CollabEdit allows only for one file at the time. Granted, you can open multiple windows, but that makes editing a bunch of files really, really awkward and clumsy.

Is there any online or offline software to enable sane collaborative editing? We tried Skyping with a shared screen, and while it's truer to pair-programming than two people coding at once, we don't want to be limited that way.


4 Answers 4


It looks like you misunderstood the concept of pair programming. It is not about two people editing one file. I guess you could get two monitors, but there is only one keyboard and one mouse.

The pair programming is about two heads thinking in two different tracks. While one write code, the other looks and see if there are major errors (like a code review on steroids), plus he thinks on what to do next.

Having said that, you can take a look into this list and see if you find something that suits your need. The one that I use is gobby.

  • It might work as long as they're chatting with each other and reviewing while writing?
    – user7433
    Apr 24, 2012 at 17:19

Saros for Eclipse is good. You and your friend can see each other's cursor and you can choose to follow what they are doing (for Observer role) or be followed (for Driver role). It also takes minimal setup (Get eclipse, get saros, get some form of communication, e.g. pigin).


For pair programming, you will need no special editing software. Any solution for virtual desktop sharing will do the trick. My personal favorite is TeamViewer, (only free for personal use). If you want a fully free solution, you can try UltraVNC.


Can you tell us about your scenario how you want to use it?

For collaborative software Development: SVN, Git

For collaborative Software Editor : Use Remote Desktop to connect and work in one editor together, walk each other though stuff. TeamViewer is a great option here to and is free

Simple non Software Editor : Good Docs (every one can work in the same file at the same time. You can past code here for a file or two but you can't compile :) )

I think if it does not fit in any of the three requirements. You needs are too peculiar.

Also check the answers here SVN vs GIT

  • Thanks for the suggestion! We are already using Mercurial and are looking for suitable software to do side-by-side programming or pair programming with. While pair-programming is a definite plus, we also want the freedom to work on different parts of the code, so skype or teamviewer are only 50% of the solution. However, this is our current setup until we can find something more suitable. I hope this clarifies the problem :)
    – IAE
    Feb 26, 2012 at 16:01
  • How often you guys would use this feature? 100% of the time or only when it is needed (code comparison etc)? Because 100% of the time screen share is not a realistic thing to me in programming
    – TheTechGuy
    Feb 26, 2012 at 16:45
  • When we have the time. Weekends, usually. Otherwise, we check our progress into the repository.
    – IAE
    Feb 26, 2012 at 17:08

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