View source on the peer-to-peer Web

The spirit of openness has been baked into the Web since its formation. The Web was built to share documents written in plain text that could be downloaded and viewed transparently.

Early View source (ueu.co)

But most Web applications aren’t composed of open documents anymore. Most are delivered as bundled, minified, and indecipherable versions of the original source.

View source on a file when a source map isn't available

From Jenn Schiffer’s Greater Than Code interview:

View source is not really a thing that a lot of new developers have access to when they want to learn how to build more sophisticated applications, which is unfortunate.

We agree. The Web is the fabric of so much innovation and creativity, but unfortunately the complexity of Web applications has introduced a significant barrier to learning and exploring.

View source in peer-to-peer websites

In Beaker, we use the Dat peer-to-peer protocol to host files and websites. Dat is similar to BitTorrent, but maintains many of the same characteristics as HTTP.

With Dat, instead of downloading just one file associated with a single GET request, you download a file listing, and can view any file from that listing.

This changes the entire dynamic of how View source works, because now you can see the whole site!

beaker://view-source for a Dat website

With Beaker and Dat, you can still minify your source code, but you can ship the original source too. This means users can view the entire set of files used to generate the application code ― including all source files and build tools.

An open source Web

This is just one example of how the Dat protocol brings radical transparency and connectivity to the Web, and we’re really excited about its potential.

Soon we’ll tell you about forking websites in Beaker, and how it enables a a truly open-source Web.

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