This month’s most useful tools for developers > January 2018

Recommended Thinking

Some are about new thinking or new techniques, some are about old or legacy technology and some are just useful resources for different languages or platforms. The brief is simple — if we think they’re useful, you might too.

Azure Notebooks

Microsoft has built an analytic playground with open-source Jupyter Notebooks in its cloud. Here is what you need to know about Azure Notebooks.

React Food Truck

There is a sort of explanation of why it’s called Food Truck, but it’s not important right now. A curated set of extensions for discerning React developers who use VS Code.

Chrome 63

Chrome 63 (out since December 2017), will force all domains ending on .dev (and .foo) to be redirected to HTTPS via a preloaded HTTP Strict Transport Security (HSTS) header. This interesting commit just landed in Chromium.

Making product decisions requires us to take risks, says the Co-op’s Digital Team

“Designing a good product – one that meets user needs and is both a viable value proposition as well as technically feasible – requires us to be both gamblers and scientists.”

Grassy. Nice.

Some variable font fun/magic…other textures are available.

Get your freak on

A Missy Elliott – inspired encoding algorithm. Yes. really.

Electron Toolkit

“Command Line Gui Tools” to make launching Electron apps easier, faster and fun. Quite useful actually.


Fast drawing for everyone. AutoDraw pairs machine learning with drawings from talented artists to help you draw stuff fast. Not the same as automatic writing, apparently.


A simulator for HTTP-based APIs. Some might consider it a service virtualization tool or a mock server.  Mock your APIs for fast, robust and comprehensive testing. It says here.

CSS Grid

“…Is a brand new layout system in CSS! It’s not a framework or library – it’s an addition to the language that allows us to quickly create flexible, two dimensional layouts.”  Learn all you need to know in a few hours here or there’s another collection of examples, videos and information to help you learn CSS Grid here.

Practical Refactoring

How to clean code in many small steps by Woody Zuill & Llewellyn Falco. 


Secure JavaScript

“Some of the very things that make JavaScript awesome can also make it exposed. This talk will go through some sample security flaws unique to JavaScript’s async nature and surrounding ecosystem. We’ll show live exploits to understand the issues and their impact, explain why they happen and – most importantly – how to avoid or fix them.”


The Laws of UX

A collection of the maxims and principles that designers can consider when building user interfaces, created by Jon Yablons. The Laws of UX


Blockchain things.

Civic Secure Identity Ecosystem.  “We are giving businesses & individuals the tools to control and protect identities.” This is a badly needed idea, but we’ll probably just keep an eye on this one for now.  It’ll only work if an awful lot of people take it on.


Need cash to develop your cryptocurrency without an ICO?

Note the lack of the B word in this title…”UK Government Lures Distributed Ledger Projects With $26 Million Fund.” 

6 alternative (and better) uses for Blockchain

Tracking food, art, elections and three more things.

It’s narrow at the top

“Both Bitcoin and Ethereum mining are very centralized, with the top four miners in Bitcoin and the top three miners in Ethereum controlling more than 50% of the hash rate.”

A heavy-weight, peer-reviewed, longitudinal study of the state of cryptocurrency networks, including Bitcoin and Ethereum from 2015-2017. 


Play things

Build your own VR headset for $100. Let three (very impressive) sixteen year old French lads show you how. In their second/third language.


Have a go on this open source Javascript game. You’ll be wanting more than one go, we warn you.   It’s on GitHub here.

We’re all doomed

This directory provides a branchless, mov-only version of the classic DOOM video game. movfuscator – The single instruction C compiler



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