kottke.org posts about Javascript

Fractal terrain in JavascriptMay 13 2014

Hunter Loftis has built a terrain rendering engine in only 130 lines of Javascript. Here's what the output looks like:

js terrain

Programmers tend to be lazy (I speak from experience), and one nice side effect of laziness is really brilliant ways to avoid work. In this case, instead of spending mind-numbing hours manually creating what would likely be pretty lame rocky surfaces, we'll get spiritual and teach the computer what it means to be a rock. We'll do this by generating fractals, or shapes that repeat patterns in smaller and smaller variations.

I don't have any way to prove that terrain is a fractal but this method looks really damn good, so maybe you'll take it on faith.

You can try it out here...reload to get new landscapes. Callum Prentice built an interactive version. This obviously reminds me of Vol Libre, a short film by Loren Carpenter from 1980 that showcased using fractals to generate terrain for the first time.

Flash player written in JavascriptJun 02 2010

That's right...it's called Smokescreen. In the future, everything will be rewritten into Javascript. (via df)

Make your own MondrianMay 27 2010

Composition with JavaScript is a Piet Mondrian painting with moveable lines and changeable colors so that you can make your own version.

Composition with Javascript is an interactive work made using HTML, CSS, Javascript and jQuery, based on Piet Mondrian's "Composition with Yellow, Red, Black, Blue and Grey" (1920). It allows everybody deconstruct the original painting and form it again in whatever he or she wants. Lines are shiftable (just drag it with your mouse) and colours changeable (click on it). Texture of the painting was preserved for authentic look. One can play with composition, forms and colours, alter the harmony of the piece or even destroy it and compose something pictorial.

Javascript Commodore 64 emulatorFeb 16 2010

A Commodore 64 emulator written in Javascript (and another). It joins the Game Boy emulator and the Nintendo emulator. Oh Javascript, is there anything you can't do? (via @anildash)

Processing for the iPhoneFeb 11 2010

The Processing Javascript library has been adapted for use on the iPhone.

iProcessing is an open programming framework to help people develop native iPhone applications using the Processing language. It is an integration of the Processing.js library and a Javascript application framework for iPhone.

Game Boy emulator in JavascriptNov 04 2009

Neat. Tetris on the Game Boy is still like a comfy chair after all these years. Runs best in Google Chrome. See also the Javascript Nintendo emulator.

j/k paging JavascriptOct 21 2009

Javascript code for navigating between posts using the j and k keys, just like on ffffound and The Big Picture. (via 37s)

Javascript Nintendo emulatorSep 17 2009

This Javascript Nintendo emulator works amazingly well in Google Chrome. You can play Dr. Mario, Super Mario Bros., Tetris, The Legend of Zelda, etc.

I highly recommend you use Google Chrome to play JSNES. Thanks to its high performance canvas element, and a clever optimisation by Connor Dunn, it runs at full speed on modern computers. Mac builds are also available. Otherwise, it just about runs on Firefox 3.5 or Safari 4, but it's hardly playable.

We've come a long way from the days of the 5K Awards.

Quick client-side searching with JavaScriptMar 18 2009

Flickr's developer blog has a pretty interesting post about how they built a fast client-side search that worked equally well for data sets of 10 people and 10000 people. Ajax with XML & JSON was too slow and using dynamic script tags was too insecure so they rolled their own format and used split to quickly parse it.

Mario Kart in JavaScriptJun 16 2008

Mario Kart in JavaScript.

Processing in JavaScriptMay 09 2008

This is pretty incredible...John Resig has ported the Processing visualization language to JavaScript. Wow. (via waxy)

Here's some JavaScript you can use toMar 13 2007

Here's some JavaScript you can use to make your web site work on the Wii. "Wiimote keycodes can be detected by JavaScript in the Wii Opera browser [but] I could not find a JavaScript library that facilitates handling these input events, so I created my own"

Fotolog overtaking Flickr?Jan 31 2007

Quick! Which photo sharing site community thingie is more popular: Fotolog or Flickr? You might be surprised at the answer...but first some history.

Fotolog launched in May 2002 and grew quite quickly at first. They'd clearly hit upon a good idea: sharing photos among groups of friends. As Fotolog grew, they ran into scaling problems...the site got slow and that siphoned off resources that could have been used to add new features to the site, etc. Problems securing funding for online businesses during the 3-4 years after the dot com bust didn't help matters either.

Flickr launched in early 2004. By the end of their first year of operation, they had a cleaner design than Fotolog, more features for finding and organizing photos, and most of the people I knew on Fotolog had switched to Flickr more or less exclusively. They also had trouble with scaling issues and downtime. Flickr got the scaling issues under control and the site became one of the handful of companies to exemplify the so-called Web 2.0 revitalization of the web. The founders landed on tech magazine covers, news magazine covers, and best-of lists, the folks who built the site gave talks at technology conferences, and the company eventually sold to Yahoo! for a reported $30 million.

Fotolog eventually got their scaling and funding issues under control as well, but relative to Flickr, the site has changed little in the past couple of years. Fotolog has groups and message boards, but they're not done as well as Flickr's and there's no tags, no APIs, no JavaScript widgets, no "embed this photo on your blog/MySpace", and no helpful Ajax design elements, all supposedly required elements for a successful site in the Web 2.0 era. Even now, Fotolog's feature set and design remains planted firmly in Web 1.0 territory.

So. Then. Here's where it gets puzzling. According to Alexa1, Fotolog is now the 26th most popular site on the web and recently became more popular than Flickr (currently #39). Here's the comparison between the two over the last 3 years:

Alexa - Fotolog vs. Flickr

This is a somewhat stunning result because by all of the metrics held in high esteem by the technology media, Web 2.0 pundits, and those selling technology and design products & services, Flickr should be kicking Fotolog's ass. Flickr has more features, a better design, better implementation of most of Fotolog's features, more free features, critical praise, a passionate community, and access to the formidable resources & marketing power of Yahoo! And yet, Fotolog is right there with them. Perhaps this is a sign that those folks trapped in the Web 2.0 bubble are not being critical enough about what is responsible for success on the Web circa-2007. (As an aside, MySpace didn't really fit the Web 2.0 mold either, nobody really talked about it until after it got huge, and yet here it is. And then there's Craigslist, which is more Web 0.5 than 2.0, and is one of the most popular sites on the web. Google too.)

What's going on here then? I can think of three possibilities (there are probably more):

1. Fotolog is very popular with Portugese and Spanish speakers, especially in Brazil. According to Wikipedia, almost 1/3rd of all Fotolog users are from Brazil and Chile. In comparing the two sites, what could account for this difference? Fotolog has a Spanish language option while Flickr does not (although I'm not sure when the Spanish version of Fotolog launched). Flickr is more verbose and text-intensive than Fotolog and much of Flickr's personality & utility comes from the text while Fotolog is almost text-free; as a non-Spanish speaker, I could navigate the Spanish-language version quite easily. Gene Smith noted that a presentation made by a Brazilian internet company said that "Flickr is unappealing to Brazilians because they want to the customize the interface to express their individual identities".

Cameron Marlow noticed that Orkut is set to pass MySpace as the world's most popular social networking site (Orkut is also very popular in Brazil), saying that "Orkut's growth reinforces the fact that the value of social networking services, and social software in general, comes from the base of active users, not the set of features they offer". Marlow also notes that Alexa's non-US reporting has improved over the past year, which might be the reason for Fotolog's big jump in early 2006. If Alexa's global reporting had been robust from the beginning, Fotolog may have been neck and neck with Flickr the whole time.

2. Flickr is more editorially controlled than Fotolog. The folks who run Flickr subtly and indirectly discourage poor quality photo contributions. Yes, upload your photos, but make them good. And the community reinforces that constraint to the point where it might seem restricting to some. Fotolog doesn't celebrate excellence like that...it's more about the social aspect than the photos.

3. Maybe tags, APIs, and Ajax aren't the silver bullets we've been led to believe they are. Fotolog, MySpace, Orkut, YouTube, and Digg have all proven that you can build compelling experiences and huge audiences without heavy reliance on so-called Web 2.0 technologies. Whatever Web 2.0 is, I don't think its success hinges on Ajax, tags, or APIs.

Update: You can see how much Fotolog depends on international usage for its traffic from this graph from Compete. They only use US statistics to compile their data. I don't have access to the Comscore ratings, but they only count US usage and, like Alexa, undercount Firefox and Safari users. (thx, walter)

[1] Usual disclaimers about Alexa's correctness apply. The point is that among some large amount of users, Fotolog is as popular (or even more) than Flickr. Whether those users are representative of the web as a whole, I dunno.

How to do a click heatmap onAug 23 2006

How to do a click heatmap on your site with JavaScript and Ruby. Includes source code. Very slick.

With Clickdensity, you put a bit aAug 07 2006

With Clickdensity, you put a bit a JavaScript on your site and it tracks where your visitors are clicking and gives you a heat map of the results. I had the idea for this about a year ago and was going to write it up for the site to see if anyone wanted to collaborate on a prototype, but never got around to it. Nice to see the idea implemented so well.

Feature request: per-domain JavaScript disabling. God yes,May 26 2006

Feature request: per-domain JavaScript disabling. God yes, any more than one NY Times story up in Safari throws beach balls like crazy.

Because of the Eolas patent crap, MicrosoftMar 17 2006

Because of the Eolas patent crap, Microsoft is updating Internet Explorer so that you need to click to "activate" any Flash or Quicktime applet. There's a workaround that involves replacing all your <object> <embed> and <applet> tags with JavaScript functions that write those tags. This is going to make a lot of web sites a pain in the ass to use with IE and developers are going to have to modify a lot of code. What a nightmare. (thx, dunstan)

With AJAX MAssive Storage System (AMASS) aOct 20 2005

With AJAX MAssive Storage System (AMASS) a web page can store large amounts of data on a computer using hidden Flash applets. Brilliant hack, but seems like a potential security concern (an AMASS-like app could just fill up a hard drive without prompting, no?). I just looked at this briefly...would this allow one to run something like GMail offline? (I'm thinking not.) (via waxy)

Typetester is a web-based font comparison toolSep 20 2005

Typetester is a web-based font comparison tool which somehow (I'm assuming JavaScript) can preview text in the fonts you have installed on your local machine. Pretty cool.

Creating styled checkboxes and radio buttons with CSS and JavaScriptJul 14 2005

Creating styled checkboxes and radio buttons with CSS and JavaScript.

Giant-Ass Image ViewerJun 20 2005

Giant-Ass Image Viewer. Python script (+JavaScript and CSS) for cutting up and viewing large images, a la Google Maps.

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