There are an immense number of tools that have been created to help web developers. Unfortunately, you might never know this; there’s no central index of these tools. It turns out that keeping up with all the development in this space is really difficult–even for folks like us who have been tracking it every day for years.
As we’ve explored different tools we could create here as part of the Developer Tools Lab, we’ve come to the opinion that in addition to creating new tools, one of the best things we could do is help developers understand the broad universe of tools that already exist and expose some of the fantastic and amazing work that’s being done.
We’re launching today a first step in this direction: an Open Web Tools Directory.
(Note: a modern browser with canvas is required to view this, like Firefox 3.5, Safari 4, Chrome 2, or Opera 9).
We went with a “space” theme to emphasize the sheer size of the tool ecosystem (though at the moment we only have a small fraction of the tools available listed). And, frankly, we just couldn’t do another table-based master/detail database application; we wanted a directory that would be fun to use (and perhaps a bit of fun to create as well).
So where do we go from here?
First, we’re putting out a call for folks to tell us about their tools. We’ve prepared a data entry form for you to use to submit a tool; please, help us fill up the directory with the hundreds or thousands of items we’ve missed! Your entries won’t go live immediately, but we’ll review them on a regular basis and get them added.
Second, let us know what features you’d most like in the directory. We’re exploring a few different concepts for how to display the entries in the directory. Here’s one of our ideas to add more detail to what we display about each entry:
We’re also exploring concepts for adding social participation features, like ranking the tools and commenting on them (though we’d like to have a good solution to astroturfing in place before rolling them out).
We also want to make searching the tools better. Right now, the search box at the bottom of the screen searches over all text fields and you can limit the directory to broad categories of tools, like “Debug”-related tools:
Finally, we have an accessible version of the directory, both for browsers without canvas support and for screen reader support.
We’re looking forward to evolving the directory and working with the web community to make it a vibrant resource for discovering and tracking the web’s amazing tools universe.
What do you think?
– Ben Galbraith, on behalf of the Developer Tools team