Could Light Table get in trouble with Microsoft?

An experimental project from the Visual Studio team called Code Canvas resurfaced today in a blog post by Kael Rowan. Code Canvas has been around since 2007 and “explore[s] design alternatives when dealing with source code on an infinitely scalable two-dimensional surface.” Here’s a video to give you a better sense of it:

More recently, Microsoft has actually shipped an add-on to Visual Studio called Debugger Canvas which appears to be based off of the work done in Code Canvas combined with Code Bubbles, an Eclipse plug-in that uses similar concepts. More videos for your enjoyment:

Code Bubbles:

Debugger Canvas videos.

Microsoft is clearly invested in this concept.

What does this have to do with Light Table? I found this part of the announcement post interesting:

Towards the end of my time on the Visual Studio team, I came to the conclusion that windows aren’t a good abstraction for what we do.


While I worked on Visual Studio, I began to see the pieces of what we could do here.

Chris cites Bret Victor’s incredible ‘Inventing on Principle' talk (which you must watch if you haven't) but fails to cite the work done at Microsoft, related to the team he was on, as inspiration. It seems like a glaring omission.

Maybe I’m seeing smoke where there’s no fire; Microsoft is a big company after all and I’ve seen cases where even members of the same team don’t know what each other are working on, let alone what R&D is doing. But I, as a backer of the Kickstarter project, hope that these similarities don’t result in future legal problems for Light Table.