Playsh: New MUD-like Programming Tool

Posted on March 15, 2006

Wired reports on playsh, a new MUD-like programming tool that allows multiple programmers to interact on the program code.
Trying to do things in playsh is most similar to games like Zork from the 1970s. To go north, you type north. To examine an object, you type look. There are no graphics, just descriptions.

But instead of ducking grues and collecting zorkmids, you're interacting with whatever program code you're working on, as well as the data and hardware devices that it uses. "It treats the web and APIs as just more objects and places, and is a platform for writing and sharing your own code to manipulate those objects and places," says developer Matt Webb, who unveiled the tool at last week's O'Reilly Emerging Technology Conference in San Diego.

Playsh is inspired by the user-customizable variety of MUD called a MOO, for "MUD object-oriented." MOOs were like chat rooms, except the members of the community could create new objects by programming them into the virtual world in a dedicated programming language, shaping the game as it went along.

When you log into playsh, you see a basic description of the room and whoever is in the room with you. The current incarnation of playsh is written in Python, and each room has a Python interpreter built into it that anyone in the room can access. Adventurers contribute to the code while simultaneously interacting with the room's objects and each other.
How could playsh be used? There are the obvious team effort coding benefits. But Wired also mentions an online banking situation where a human could help a user quickly learn how to use the online banking system by being in a "virtual room" with the user.