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HomeUncategorizedZed, a collaborative code editor, is now open source

Zed, a collaborative code editor, is now open source

We’re excited to announce that Zed is now an open source project. The code for Zed itself is available under a copyleft license to ensure any improvements will benefit the entire community (GPL for the editor, AGPL for server-side components). GPUI, the UI framework that powers Zed, is distributed under the Apache 2 license, so that you can use it to build high-performance desktop applications and distribute them under any license you choose.

You can find all of the code on GitHub.


Why are we doing this? Most importantly, we believe that making Zed open source will make it the best product. Our mission is to build the world’s most advanced code editor and get it into the hands of millions of developers. There’s a ton of surface area on that problem, and we’ll need all the help we can get. Considering that all of Zed’s users are programmers, it makes the most sense sense to open Zed to the maximum pool of talent.

On a more selfish level, we also think going open source will be a lot more fun. One of our favorite aspects of software is connecting with people. We’re not only proud of what we’ve built, but also of how we’ve built it. We want to share Zed’s inner beauty with all of you, and we’re confident we’ll learn a lot from you in the process to make it even better.

Introducing Fireside Hacks

Motivated by our desire to connect with you all on a human level, we’re launching a new Zed feature called Zed Channels, which will make it easy for developers anywhere in the world to write code together in real time just by sharing a link.

Starting tomorrow, we’ll be using Channels to run a new program called Fireside Hacks, in which we’ll be working on Zed live in a public channel, together with whoever shows up. We’ll be experimenting with different formats, but we’re hoping these regular sessions give us all an opportunity to get to know each other better, beyond what’s possible in a static pull request. Come join the experiment to ask questions, make suggestions, and code with us in real time. We’re looking forward to meeting you!

Wait… Doesn’t Cash Rule Everything Around Me?

We strongly believe that the best way to build and maintain the world’s best editor is by associating it with a sustainable business model. It’s the only way we can continue to invest in a full-time team to spearhead development. Some may wonder whether making Zed open source undermines this objective. We’ve thought about this a lot, and we don’t think that openness is at odds with commercial success.

Rather than selling you a proprietary editor, we’d much prefer to sell you services that seamlessly integrate with your editor to make you and your team more productive. Zed Channels is one example of such a service. It’s free for anyone today, but we intend to begin charging for private use after a beta period of experimentation. Providing server-side compute to power AI features is another monetization scheme we’re seeing getting traction.

Today, we’re open sourcing 100% of the code we’ve written so far. In the future, however, we may still offer proprietary products targeting commercial and enterprise use cases, though we always intend for proprietary code to be a tiny fraction compared to the code we open source. We also intend to ensure our need to generate revenue never interferes with your need to write software. We’re never going to show you a banner ad in your code editor, and if we do, you can always build Zed from source.

We believe in the principle of creating more value than we capture. Going open source is a bet that if we can build a huge movement around Zed, our company will find opportunities to capture some of the value we create.

The Road to 1.0

So what’s next? To some extent, that’s up to you! But it’s also true that we’re still a small team. We want to massively grow adoption in 2024 so that more developers can benefit from Zed, and we’ve put together a public roadmap based on user feedback that we think can help us get there. If your contributions help us make progress toward completing that roadmap, especially items near the top, we’ll be more likely to make time for them.

That said, we’re going to figure this out as we go, and we welcome anyone who is excited to contribute and learn. If you’d like to get involved, check out our contribution guide, and come say hello at an upcoming Fireside Hack if you have the time. Developers everywhere need a better code editor, and we’re excited for you to join us on our mission to advance the state of the art. See you in the codebase!

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