What would the IDE look like if invented today?

I just finished reading a great analysis of Google Wave by Redmonk’s Stephen O’Grady. Ever since seeing him present at an Eclipse board/council meeting, I’ve been following his blog. Highly recommended if you’re interested in a great perspective on what’s really happening in the enterprise open source world.

As I was reading it, I was struck by what Lars Rasmussen said at the beginning of his keynote on Wave at the Google IO conference: “What would email look like if we set out to invent it today?”. Well, apparently they’ve ended up with an open, extensible framework for hosted collaboration systems that seemlessly merge IM, e-mail, and documents into a single interactive workflow. Wave has really impressed me as a significant step in the evolution in the way we communicate on the web.

Stephen also brought up IBM’s Jazz. His analysis at the time was that Jazz is application development given a certain number of technologies that were popular at the time, which wasn’t that long ago, i.e., Ajax, Subversion, and IM. And everyone I know who’s taken a serious look at Jazz are pretty Jazzed by it.

Today, though, at least from where I sit, there are a few more technologies that could contribute to our software developer toolchest. And I ask, what would the IDE look like if it was invented today, or at least in the next few years, in a world with Google Wave, distributed source control, and smartbooks. Even just seeing David Green’s blog on Galileo Builds on your iPhone, an app that shows reports on your Hudson builds, gives a hint at this future.

The world around us is changing dramatically since the rise of the iPhone and competing open smartphone devices and our ability to stay in touch with the Internet wherever we go. Also significant is the rise of web technologies that allow us to leverage that connectivity in better ways. What would an IDE look like in that world? My imagination is running wild ;).