๐Ÿค” Do you think the browser is cool again?

This week we're talking about: the Browser.We do less with passing files from one person to another, because we're all using the internet to store our stuff. I recently found a small bag of flash drives, and a thought bubble appeared over my head. I couldn't remember what I had stored on them.

Not only have we navigated away from device-localized storage, we've also started to expect that we can do our work from any device, anywhere. Higher bandwidth and lower latency is giving real-time collaboration apps a home in the browser.

A more portable way to use applications is in the browser, because youโ€™re not bound to one specific device. Youโ€™re accessing tools on the cloud, when they are most convenient to you.

Browsers are reaching the same level of maturity that operating systems did when smartphone apps went mainstream. When smartphones emerged initially, applications didnโ€™t come out yet because the ecosystem wasnโ€™t mature enough. Once the ecosystem matured, there was an explosion and ultimately led to a new technology sector for economic growth.

By and large, browsers have normalized the core technology across mobile phones, tablets, desktops and TVs, creating a ubiquitous platform for designers and developers to build one system that can be ported across many experiences.

Our take: The browser is the new operating system.


๐ŸŽฎAs games become more visually powerful, browser-based gaming is just starting to appear on the scene.
At the end of last year, Amazon announced its cloud gaming service Luna, a "gaming service where it's easy to play great games on devices you already own. No waiting for lengthy downloads or updates โ€” just play." As long as the experience between platform and browser is no different, there should be promise in this approach. Luna is in beta right now, and is not attached to Amazon Prime Gaming.

In other news, EPIC games is currently in development on a browser-based app that lets you create CGI Humans. Brings me back to building low-poly Sims. These humans (can we call them that?) are wayyyy too realistic.

๐Ÿ™GitHub Skyline: Your GitHub story in 3D made the rounds quite a bit last week
 โ€” Using your GitHub activity from 2020, create a 3D skyline of your year in git. Complete with a rad soundtrack! It's a great demonstration of what's possible in the browser.

๐Ÿ“„Data as a document, documents as data. Browser-based "code notebooks" provide powerful tooling for all sorts of use cases.

It's not a new idea, but it has moved to the browser more recently. True to the origins of the World Wide Web, a few platforms have been working to integrate the written word with code and data. 

Nextjournal angles toward scientific research and has been adopted by all sorts of academic institutions for sharing data-driven research. 

Starboard is an entirely browser-powered "literate notebook" that even imports existing Jupyter notebooks. They operate as an Open Startup, so not only is it open source but your data isn't locked to their platform. 

Observable has an emphasis on data visualization and portability; users can import any other notebook and have access to most popular libraries for data munging and display. There's even a great community of data journalists sharing some awesome insights on everyday news.

๐Ÿ“ฆWe used to use flash drives to send data, then we used airdrop, now we use our browser
Sending huge files to friends and colleagues can be a pain. With tech like WebRTC, you can use a direct peer-to-peer connection to send data between two machines. FilePizza is the original and very simple go-to, but FileRoom offers an updated interface with some additional features for groups. And both are free.

๐Ÿ‘Here's a quick-pick list of some of @tbeseda's favorite browser-based developer tools. From small tasks like generating file structure ASCII to a full-blown dev environment

Postman is not just a desktop app! The HTTP super-tool works great in the browser

๐Ÿ„โ€โ™‚๏ธ Surf GitHub code with VS Code. Browse Github. In VS Code. In your browser 

Generate File Tree ASCII Diagrams - Sometimes things are just better explained with an old fashioned text diagram.

Online diff tool to compare text: Diffchecker - Way easier than creating a new git repo just to see the diff between 2 versions of text.

Gitpod - Dev environments hosted in the cloud, accessible via the browser.

๐ŸŽปYou don't ux design if you don't design in the browser. Since Figma bet on the browser years ago, several developer and designer tools have cropped up to provide valuable services right in the browser. Expo.io's Snack feature covers the full development cycle for mobile apps in React Native: Develop > Build > Update.

Shuffle helps builders boot up a new app based on their favorite front end stack. Use the visual editor to add components, edit layout and styles, share a preview with the team, and export source code all from Shuffle's browser toolchain.

As always, special shoutout to Taylor Beseda for helping curate this content.
Follow him on twitter @tbeseda.