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This is an IDE intended for teaching, and thus allowing others (presumably students) to spectate while code is being written. It allows you (or students) to run code in the browser, and to have student-specific document versions, to experiment with code while being taught.


Setup is quite manual right now. You must install codemirror and fontawesome as directories in the client code, and for optional eval support, may install pyodide and picocjs as well. Then, simply present the client code over any standard HTTP server. A redirect rule helps: By default, if you access a path such as "/.../foo", it will look for a document named "foo". If you can't set up a redirect rule, you can use "?doc=foo" (search parameters) instead.

As well as the client, you of course need a server. npm install in the server directory to install its dependencies, then use node livedes.js to run the server. If the client is served over HTTPS, put the certificate in the server/cert directory so that the server will work over HTTPS as well.

The final obnoxious part of setup is setting up documents. LiveDE currently doesn't have a document creator, you need to make them by hand. To create a document named "foo", create a file server/data/foo.json with content similar to this, adjusted as needed:

    "meta": {
        "language": "javascript"
    "password": "p4ssw0rd"

Note that while the password is temporarily in plain text in the JSON file, it will be salted and hashed when the document is first actually loaded.

Main interface

To load a document, load something like index.html?doc=foo in a browser, or a simpler URL using a redirect rule as described above. If the document exists, it will be displayed in a read-only code editor, and can be run with the "run" button (if the language is supported for running in-browser) or saved with the "save" button. From here, the interface changes depending on whether you're an instructor (herein called "master") or a student.

Master interface

To access the master interface, add a master search parameter to the URL (e.g. ?doc=foo&master or ?master), then enter the password for the document at the prompt. Note that the search parameter isn't a security feature, it's just used to avoid cluttering the student interface; the password is the security feature.

From the master interface, you can edit the document, unlock the document, see student versions, and see student questions.

A locked document has only one fork (the master fork) and is only editable by the master. An unlocked document is editable by students, and each student who chooses to edit the document gets their own version. The master can see the student versions using a dropdown that appears when the students write them. If the master locks the document while viewing a student version, that becomes the master fork, instead of the original master fork.

The locking interface is intended to give students an opportunity to try solutions in a relatively anonymous fashion, and for the instructor to reward correct solutions by accepting them.

The "Question" button on the master interface opens a blank window. When student questions are received, they are sent to that window. The intent is for the questions window to be on a monitor that is not visible to students.

Finally, the master has a "hide" button to hide the user interface header and display, in its place, the URL of the document. This is so that students can easily find it while the instructor is editing it.

Student interface

Both students and masters may run code if the document is in one of the languages that LiveDE supports evaluating, currently JavaScript and Python. Pressing the "run" button opens a subwindow in which the program output and any errors are displayed. The output window can be closed with its "X" button. The "run" button always runs the document as currently displayed, even if it's not the master fork.

The "local" button makes a local copy of the current state of the document that the student can edit. When finished, they can return to the master copy with the "revert" button. The intention of this feature is to allow experimentation outside of the lock system.

When the document is unlocked (and has not been locally copied), the "local" button is replaced by an "unlocked" interface, and the document is editable. Edits are propagated as forks that the master can see.

Finally, the "question" button opens a dialogue in which a question may be entered. The question is passed anonymously to the master.


The LiveDE teaching development environment




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