Etherpad 1.8.4 with two plugins enabled
|Initial release||November 2008|
1.8.6 / 18 September 2020
|Type||Collaborative real-time editor|
|License||Apache License 2.0|
Etherpad (previously known as EtherPad) is an open-source, web-based collaborative real-time editor, allowing authors to simultaneously edit a text document, and see all of the participants' edits in real-time, with the ability to display each author's text in their own color. There is also a chat box in the sidebar to allow meta communication.
First launched in November 2008, the software was acquired by Google in December 2009 and released as open source later that month. Further development is coordinated by the Etherpad Foundation.
Features and implementation
Anyone can create a new collaborative document, known as a "pad". Each pad has its own URL, and anyone who knows this URL can edit the pad and participate in the associated chats. Password-protected pads are also possible. Each participant is identified by a color and a name.
The software auto-saves the document at regular, short intervals, but participants can permanently save specific versions (checkpoints) at any time. Merging of changes is handled by operational transform. A "time slider" feature allows anyone to explore the history of the pad. The document can be downloaded in plain text, HTML, Open Document, Microsoft Word, or PDF format.
Etherpad was launched on November 19, 2008 by David Greenspan, Aaron Iba, and J.D. Zamfirescu (the latter two being former Google employees).
They were later joined by former Googler Daniel Clemens and designer David Cole. The original website was
Etherpad was covered by Slashdot on November 21, 2008, resulting in server slowdown and downtime. This led the developers to temporarily revert the tool to closed beta, not allowing new pads to be created (but providing full and unrestricted access to the existing ones), while the server infrastructure was being improved. After the rewrite of the software was completed, the new version went live on 29 January 2009, and on February 3, the site became again open to all.
When Google Wave was announced, the Etherpad team wrote on their blog comparing the two platforms and stating that the minimalist and targeted Etherpad interface could be an advantage in some use cases. Still, on 4 December 2009, Etherpad announced on its blog that it had been acquired by Google for integration into Google Wave. Existing Etherpad users would receive invites for Google Wave. On 31 March 2010, Etherpad announced that creation of new pads would be allowed until April 14 (pad creation was still allowed as of April 18, though) and existing pads could still be accessed and used until May 14. Options for download/export were available. The Etherpad service terminated on May 14.
Google released the source code for Etherpad under the Apache License version 2.0 on December 17, 2009. Subsequently, Google asked the Etherpad code maintainers to remove JSMin from its code tree due to a clause in its license stating, "The Software shall be used for Good, not Evil," which is not compatible with the open source licenses allowed on Google Code.
After the release of the software as open source, a number of people have set up Etherpad servers, as clones of the original website. Soon after, users and programmers of Etherpad, after an initial meeting in the #etherpad channel on freenode, created the Etherpad Foundation to coordinate further development. Their website maintains a list of a growing number of sites that run the Etherpad software.
Etherpad Lite has some distinctive features which are not available in the original version:
- An HTTP API which allows the user to interact with the pad contents, and with user and group management
- A jQuery plugin exists which helps embedding the collaborative editor in other sites
- More than 50 plugins, among them email_notifications, invite_via_email, offline_edit, fileupload, tables or rtc for video calls based on WebRTC.
Etherpad Lite offers a number of export formats, including LaTeX, but as of June 2019[update] not Markdown. Etherpad Lite supports many natural languages. Localization is achieved collaboratively through translatewiki.net.
- "Releases - ether/etherpad-lite". Retrieved September 18, 2020 – via GitHub.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on January 2, 2010. Retrieved September 23, 2016.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
- "EtherPad Open Source Release, Google Code". Code.google.com. Retrieved February 14, 2013.
- Michael Arrington (November 19, 2008). "Etherpad Shows Google Docs How It's Done". TechCrunch.
- Philip Lenssen (November 20, 2008). "EtherPad". Google Blogoscoped.
- "AppJet Company Overview". EtherPad. Archived from the original on January 2, 2010. Retrieved February 14, 2013.
- "A Web App For Real-Time Collaborative Writing". Slashdot. November 21, 2008.
- "EtherPad Temporarily Reverts to Closed Beta". The Etherpad Blog. November 21, 2008. Archived from the original on January 2, 2010.
- Aaron Iba (January 29, 2009). "Beta Update: Now running new EtherPad software". EtherPad Blog.
- Aaron Iba (February 3, 2009). "EtherPad Now Open to All!". EtherPad Blog.
- Daniel Clemens (June 3, 2009). "Google Wave Joins EtherPad in Real-time Collaboration". EtherPad Blog. Archived from the original on January 2, 2010. Retrieved September 23, 2016.
- "Google Acquires AppJet". Archived from the original on December 6, 2009. Retrieved September 23, 2016.
- "EtherPad Homepage". EtherPad.
- Aaron Iba. "EtherPad Open Source Release". EtherPad Blog.
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- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on July 26, 2011. Retrieved October 7, 2010.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
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- "ether/etherpad-lite-jquery-plugin Âˇ GitHub". Github.com. Retrieved December 11, 2013.
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- "jhollinger/ruby-etherpad-lite · GitHub". Github.com. Retrieved February 14, 2013.
- README.markdown. "tomassedovic/etherpad-lite-client-js · GitHub". Github.com. Retrieved February 14, 2013.
- "jhollinger/java-etherpad-lite · GitHub". Github.com. January 20, 2013. Retrieved February 14, 2013.
- "alexzautke/etherpad-lite-objc · GitHub". Github.com. Retrieved February 14, 2013.
- "Luc Didry / Etherpad-220.127.116.11 · MetaCPAN". metacpan.org. Retrieved July 18, 2015.
- "Etherpad Available-Plugins · GitHub". Github.com. Retrieved July 22, 2014.
- "Markdown support. ep_markdown is abandoned — Issue #3503". etherpad-lite. October 24, 2018. Retrieved January 21, 2019.
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