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6 Open Source Projects Web Developers Need To Know About

GitHub is a developer’s dream: not just for managing their own code, but for discovering new and exciting scripts, frameworks, and tools to use in their work. Among the tens of thousands of projects, it can be difficult to sort the wheat from the chaff. GitHub’s popularity means that there are plenty of awesome projects, but they can be hard to find amid the dross. In this article, I’d like to highlight six open source projects that have recently caught my interest. The functionality they provide varies, but each deserves consideration for a prominent place in a web developer’s toolbox.


The New York Times has done some fantastic development work over the last few years, and much of has been open sourced. PourOver is a tool that was developed by the NYT for searching and filtering large data collections. There are plenty of tools that do the same, but what’s especially neat about PourOver is that it brings faceted collection search and filtering into the browser, rather than relying on server-side processing. That makes it incredibly fast. In basic terms, PourOver creates caches for potential queries and uses set algebra to run composite queries in the browser. It’s a potent tool for developing faceted search functionality for websites and apps. For more information about PourOver, take a look at the PourOver site.


PourOver has one dependency and it’s worthy of a mention in its own right: Underscore.js is a JavaScript library that provides functional programming helpers. It includes 80 or so helpers for working with collections and arrays of data.


Data visualization is all the rage, with data-driven journalism and blogging taking off in a big way. This is another tool for which there are several alternatives, but Vis is an excellent dynamic browser-based visualization library, capable of handling large amounts of dynamic data. Vis is great for building timelines and visualizing graphs and networks.


Carousels are a ten-a-penny, but as the developer of Slick says, this may be the last one you’ll ever need. It’s relatively straightforward to use and extremely flexible.


Flat design is in the ascendency at the moment, which means that shadowed text and interface elements have lost some of the popularity they previously had. Nevertheless, shadowed page elements can be beneficial to both aesthetics and user experience if they’re used judiciously. Shine.js is a library for quickly creating pretty interactive shadows.

Heartbleed Checker

We’re all well aware of the damage caused by the Heartbleed SSL vulnerability, but some sites have been slow to patch. Heartbleed checker is the framework underlying this Heartbleed test site. It’s not perfect, but it’s a useful tool for scoping out a site’s potential vulnerability, including your own. These six projects are just a drop in the bucket, so if you have a tool you’d like to share, drop a mention in the comments below. Image: Flickr/Riebart