Development Tools From An Event Apart

by January 21, 2010

The An Event Apart conference in San Francisco, CA last month introduced me to a lot of interesting projects, frameworks, and tools for Web development. Though some of these have been around for a while, seeing them all together (compiled across all the speaker's presentations) got me really excited about what can be done online. So you can share in that excitement too, here's the list.

Graphics & Visualizations

  • Processing.js: a port of the Processing Visualization Language to Javascript. It allows you to draw shapes and manipulate images on the HTML5 Canvas element. The code is light-weight, simple to learn and makes an ideal tool for visualizing data, creating user-interfaces and developing web-based games.
  • Raphaël a small JavaScript library that simplifies working with vector graphics on the web. If you want to create your own specific chart or image crop and rotate widget, for example, you can achieve it simply and easily with this library.
  • Bluff: a port of the Gruff graphing library for Ruby to JavaScript. It allows you to easily create graphical charts on the HTML5 Canvas element.
  • WebGL: a cross-platform Web standard for a low-level 3D graphics exposed through the HTML5 Canvas element. WebGL brings plugin-free 3D to the web, implemented right into the browser.

Browser Scripting

  • Jetpack: a Mozilla Labs project that enables anyone who knows HTML, CSS, and JavaScript to create powerful Firefox add-ons.
  • Cappuccino : an open source framework that makes it easy to build desktop-caliber applications that run in a web browser. With Cappuccino, you don't need to know HTML. You'll never write a line of CSS. You don't ever have interact with DOM. You need to learn one technology, Objective-J (essentially JavaScript 2), and one set of APIs.
  • ie-7.js: Javascript code that makes Internet Explorer 6 run like a standards compliant browser.


  • Natural Earth: a data set (of shapefiles) that people can use to make maps of regions and countries.
  • Mapnik: high quality open source map rendering. Mapnik takes XML based location information and allows you to style it.
  • TileCache: serves up the images you need to render maps.
  • Protovis: a Javascript library for rendering data marks: markers, size markers, colors, sparklines, charts, and more. Protovis defines marks through dynamic properties that encode data, allowing inheritance, scales and layouts to simplify construction.
  • You can design with Mapnik –to draw maps. Serve maps with TileCache. Make better markers with Prototvis. This combination gives you control over the design of geographic experiences online.