Originally developed in 2003 under the name Hydra, SubEthaEdit uses architecture built into the Mac OS X operating system. Using the Bonjour protocol, users running the SubEhtaEdit software can edit and collaborate on documents anywhere at anytime on a Mac OS X subnet with out the need for any special configuration. With the right steps the scope of the collaboration can be extended by running SubEthaEdit over the internet itself, theoretically allowing users anywhere in the world to add to and edit a document in real time.
One of the most popular uses of the software is for collaborative note taking at a conference. For example, a group of people from an organization or company attending a conference or watching a speech may set up a SubEthaEdit document where they can all contribute their thoughts and comments in real time. In the case of a speech or lecture, what this amounts to is having, say, 20 people all take notes on the same thing as opposed to one. Of course, 20 people will all have different backgrounds and areas of knowledge and will notice different things in a lecture, and combining all their voices into one document can be beneficial. SubEthaEdit could also be useful in an academic setting: a study group in the same class, for example, could collaborate on notes for an important lecture, and have the benefit of multiple eyes and ears when looking back on notes for the lecture - extremely helpful for tests.
Another popular use for the SubEthaEdit software is in Extreme Programming, known as XP. Formulated primarily by Kent Beck, extreme programming is a philosophical shift in the way software is designed collaboratively. The idea is to have the different aspects of solving a problem operating continuously. Instead of outlining a plan for a system and assigning programmers different tasks, the system attempts to work more organically. Developers and customers, in fact all people involved with the project, are encouraged to generate ideas and continually evolve the nature of the project as they work on it. Using SubEthaEdit, the project team can be in constant, real time collaborative communication with each other, removing many of the bottlenecks that impede innovation and slowdown traditional programming.
SubEthaEdit can also be useful in real time video editing. As its name implies, real time video editing involves removing the post-production associated with many traditional broadcasts. Video is edited as it happens, much as done in a live broadcast. Real time video editing, in its very nature, requires effective real time collaboration, and this is where SubEthaEdit comes in. It allows people involved in the editing to communicate with each other as a group: that is, each member can broadcast notes or opinions to every other member of the group using a SubEthaEdit document, which allows for more efficient and effective real time video editing.
Many of the things at the forefront of online technology are collaborative in nature, like the wiki-based wikipedia. The internet allows people to easily have many minds working on the same problem, and sharing information. An application like SubEthaEdit is an example of how easily this can be done, and the likelihood of similar software that improves on the concept being available in the future is a certainty.