2013 Wrap-Up, Part 2
A year’s worth of useful, excellent things from our readers and contributors
Just before Christmas, we asked you to submit one thing you found helpful or wonderful or excellent this year. The gist where we made the call grew into its own comment ecosystem of awesome links, and we’ve combined those submissions with the ones you emailed and DMed. There were too many submissions to run in a single post—the first half lives here.
Things to Read, Watch & Play
Ryan Pitts’ blog post from July—I loved every word of this, I think it captured the spirit of developing in the newsroom beautifully and summarized a lot of my own feelings on the subject.
- and -
Node School—I love the way these lessons are organized, it’s a great way to work your way through Node in digestible chunks. It doesn’t provide too much structure, so you actually LEARN instead of just rote intake. And most importantly it maintains a sense of joy about what you’re doing. The whole thing makes me happy. And did I mention anyone can contribute lessons? This was no small inspiration for what I was trying to do with my command-line mystery project.
Finally taught me how to do it. :)
Things to Use
Our team moved from Skype to HipChat this year. We have one big team chatroom, plus separate chatrooms for major projects. There are hooks for GitHub (so new commits, issues and comments come up in the chat). And we have a Hubot set up to respond to key sentences with alternately useful (google hangout links, cafeteria / food truck lunch menu) and silly (gifs galore) things.
Dropbox. Between it and the apps that support it, got me untied from individual devices. I can switch between machines easily, and if one dies in a fire, I can pick up something else and keep working without disruption and two days spent restoring from backups.
One tool that I found really useful in 2013 is OpenStreetMap’s Nominatim: it allows you to do reverse geocoding, i.e. to get lat/long coordinates based on an address (something that is surprisingly hard to do with e.g. Google Maps). I used it for a mapping project, where I had a bunch of locations and had to put them on a map.
I know you only asked for one ;) but I have to mention TopoJSON as well. It’s a great way to minimize massive geodata sets. I used it on the same mapping project (different dataset though), and was thrilled to find it’s really easy to minimize a 50MB geoJSON file down to 50KB, which makes it usable for a web map.
—Bruno De Bondt
So for me, the thing that I loved the MOST and actually has some interesting potential as a low-cost, mobile-friendly networked sensor platform journalism is the Spark Core. It came out to Kickstarter supporters to juuuust under the wire, so it feels like a little bit of a cheat in 2013, the goal definitely thing that I’m MOST geeked about.
I would like to nominate openwatch platform/app. What they do is amazing, and getting better everyday!
—Onur Umut Aladinler
I Discovered d3js.org this year. I am still far from really getting everything (does anybody except Mike Bostock anyway?). Being able to display a map from pure geodata in the browser was my personal best time in coding this year.