Winds of Change: SkyDrive Gets Text Editor, New Name

by Jeff Martin on Aug 06, 2013 |

Microsoft’s popular SkyDrive is undergoing several changes as the service continues to add new features and react to a new court ruling. The first change is that Microsoft has been forced to rename the SkyDrive surface as a result of a trademark dispute between the company and British Sky Broadcasting Group (Sky). Sky will allow Microsoft to continue using the SkyDrive name for a limited time while it looks for replacement.  A new name has yet to be announced, but this marks the second major trademark case that has gone against Microsoft in the last 12 months (the first was surrounding the use of the “Metro” term to describe the Windows 8 UI.)


Developers looking for a lightweight text editing will appreciate the new ability of SkyDrive that allows users to edit text files online. SkyDrive's HTML5-based text editor includes syntax highlighting and provides line numbers. Auto-completion and code hints are available. Beyond plain text, syntax highlighting is supported for CSS, JavaScript, HTML, C#, PHP, Ruby, Python, and SQL. This ability is available now.


SkyDrive's role in the forthcoming Windows 8.1 as it will be even more tightly integrated than it is today. One new feature is the use of placeholder files, which:

“Placeholder files look and feel like normal folders and files. You can tap or click a folder and see all the folders and files inside it. You can tap or click a file and it will open, you can edit it and close it. You can move, delete, copy, or rename placeholder files just like you would any folder or file. But we only download the full file when you access it.”


For photos, this is taken one stop further with the aggressive use of thumbnails. Large thumbnails, with pre-fetching enabled, allows users to have easy access to large photo collections without having to store all of the images (with their accompanying large file sizes) on a local device. Microsoft Group Program Manager Mon Akmal provides a 5% estimate—meaning only 5 megabytes need to be stored locally for every 95 stored on SkyDrive. Offline access has been improved to allow files to be marked for offline access. Files are automatically marked for offline access on the device for which they were created. SkyDrive maintains a local index of cloud-stored files to ease searching when using Windows 8.1.


InfoQ's conversation with a Microsoft spokesperson confirmed that while SkyDrive “...provides a richer, more integrated experience than any other cloud storage service, we are committed to giving customers the choice of a wide range of applications and services from other providers.” 

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F# syntax highlighting is also supported by Faisal Waris


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