Fun Links 2016-01-22

You may have heard me mentioned Visual Studio Code before; it is an editor from Microsoft which is more lightweight and web focused. I’ve been using the December release for the past month or so, and I must say it is certainly coming into its own. It works well with JavaScript and Typescript and other web-based languages, providing an Intellisense that feels more comprehensive than its peers’.

The nice thing about Visual Studio Code (at least for me) is that it is cross-platform. It works very well on my Macbook as well as my Windows workstation. To provide that compatibility, VS Code builds on top of Electron, the “shell” that was created by the folks at GitHub for their own Atom editor. Under the hood, it uses Node.js and Webkit to provide the behaviour and UI for the applications. So all of your elements are essentially HTML and styled with CSS.

However, VS Code isn’t the only app to use Electron, so I thought I’d send around a list of some other neat apps which are built using web technologies. In theory, these apps should all be cross-platform, but in practice, some of them may not be (yet).

Light Table
Yes, that’s right, another text editor. Or is it? Light Table claims to be more than just an editor; it is code explorer as well. It will run your code and can render pages with the usual live reload. However, it also allows you to set watches on variables and inspect values real-time in the editor. In addition to JavaScript/HTML/CSS, it supports Clojure and Python. I certainly like where this project is going regarding its goals, and I suspect that we will see more innovation in the IDE/editor space in the future. Light Table is free and open source software.

Speak is a communication tool designed for work teams. It does audio, video and screen sharing and is targeting itself as a replacement for tools like Skype, Webex and GotoMeeting when you need informal sharing and collaborating with your colleagues. Speak hasn’t started charging yet, so I take that to mean they are still in development, but the future pricing model seems fair. They also claim to have an Unlimited Trial which means that you can use the service for as long as you want for free and start paying when you decide it is the right tool for your needs.

Mancy is a JavaScript/TypeScript/CoffeeScript REPL. In addition to the basic REPL functionality that you might get from the Chrome console or running node without a script, it adds a number of extra features. For starters, it allows you to write in dialects of JavaScript directly. It has syntax highlighting, autocomplete and some useful data visualizers. You can view your data as charts, or any HTML in strings rendered out. It understand the JSX syntax from React and will even watch any promises that returned from an evaluation. Mancy is a useful tool for learning JavaScript (or variant) without a lot of setting up.