For most developers, one glance at ImpactJS's official demo game Biolab Disaster will be enough to conjure dreams of creating the next great viral web game. Although not free, the low cost ImpactJS developer license costs $99 is a drop in the bucket considering its capabilities.
The Portable Document Format (PDF) has long been an indispensable part of the web. Cross-platform support, downloadability, and convenient printing capabilities are just a few reasons so many organizations use PDFs to distribute manuals, product literature, research papers, and just about every other imaginable type of document. Yet merely reading a PDF requires users to install a plugin, and in some cases requires the browser to hand off the document to a third-party application.
Many developers aspire to build mobile applications yet fret over the considerable time and monetary investments required to acquire new language skills and development tools. These concerns multiple when taking into account the idea of developing mobile applications which are supported on a variety of platforms, Android and iOS for instance.
Although I haven't yet felt the urge to dive into the mobile development space, when the inevitable happens its practically a certainty I'll first look towards the open source PhoneGap project as the clearest path to entry.
Developer Steve Wittens recently stirred up quite a hornet's nest with his release announcement of TermKit, a graphical replacement for the OS X Terminal. Based on WebKit, Node.js, jQuery and Socket.IO, TermKit certainly adds some visual panache to a decades old interface which admittedly looks quite plain even on OS X, which according to the majority of comments on Witten's blog and on Hacker News, is right where the majority of developers (including yours truly) would like to leave it, thank you very much.
All kidding aside, TermKit certainly looks quite promising, offering a few undeniably cool features such as the ability to view an image from directly within the terminal window rather than opening a utility application. It also offers a great demonstration of Node's ability to interact with an operating system. Be sure to keep tabs on this project as it's future looks quite bright.
Three dimensional web-based applications are about as elusive as the Yeti, only very occasionally making an appearance and generally stirring up quite a bit of excitement when they do. Despite many attempts, adding a third-dimension to the browser has proved more difficult than anticipated. Technologies such as WebGL and the HTML5 Canvas element are however opening the door to building three dimensional web interfaces, and a project called Three.js offers developers with a great way to get started.
I find this project particularly interesting in that in an eWeek interview Holmstrom describes the rather informal way in which the project came about, beginning with downloading the DLR source code and experimenting with the companion sample language implementation until he felt comfortable enough to set his idea in motion.
I doubt there's a self-proclaimed computer geek alive who hasn't spent an inordinate amount of time over the years updating his desktop background. Using the Vegas jQuery plugin, it's possible to easily add similarly compelling backgrounds to your web pages. Although adding web-based backgrounds has of course been possible for years using standard HTML and CSS, Vegas offers several additional effects such as fading and slide shows which really add to this plugin's attractiveness.
Be sure to check out the Vegas demo for a great example of Vegas' capabilities.
Jason Gilmore is founder of the publishing, training, and consulting firm WJGilmore.com. He is the author of several popular books, including "Easy PHP Websites with the Zend Framework", "Easy PayPal with PHP", and "Beginning PHP and MySQL, Fourth Edition". Follow him on Twitter at @wjgilmore.