Skip to main content

web sites which you can go to on the internet which offer interesting services for technical people usually without charge and often with their very code available for you to read if you can and if you care

A good friend of mine is quite horrified by the present trend towards web app replacements for more and more core development work and architecture; such apps are, after all, a grave violation of the elegance and security of good old POSIX APIs. (Who can doubt that some people will use these unsecured client-server apps to work with confidential data? How much user foolishness are architects duty-bound to anticipate and preclude? Answer: surely more than this.)

The browser itself is already my debugger, linker, compiler, and garbage collector; the following lovely tools tempt us to concentrate more and more of our work into this one subjective spot - all running, objectively, on other people's computers. (Another transgression against the best old way.) But aren't they lovely:

  • Futuristic feeling: offers command lines for two dozen languages and saves shareable sessions for each. Very damn fast too; try running
    on it. An incredible education tool and amazing for netbooks. See also 3v4l for PHP versioning.
    Previously you would use: Desktop with umpteen environments. Complex provisioning. Or just call the other person over to show them something.

  • Mockaroo. Generates dummy data by custom function. 1000 rows free which is more than you need except for stress tests. Includes option of horrifying 'naughty strings' - SQL injecting validator-nukes. Probably illegal to run these on other people's sites. Free GNU implementation here.
    Previously you would use: VS Premium, or a framework's seeder.

  • Highly temporary, totally open HTTP endpoint for sniffing requests. Very useful if you're using cURL, since it somehow still doesn't have functions for a dry-run or post-hoc POST documenting after 20 years.
    Previously you would: just write a test endpoint on your safe local box you loafer. Alternatively, POSTman or Charles.

  • Cloud datasets and visualisation hosting. Embeddable. I like the look a lot better than Google Sheets and it foils the corporate ogre a tiny amount.
    Previously you would use: Excel and R and your own server.

  • Browserling. VMs in the cloud, for testing dozens of subtly different browsers and devices. Runs like a dog, but it's free and Browserstack (which is $800 p.a.) isn't much faster.
    Previously you would use: 30 different VMs at a gig each, horrendous update schedule, or a stack of physical devices.

  • Detexify. For finding that one TeX command you need in less than 10 mins. Gives this grand, beautiful, arcane system yet another lease of life, even though it is for writing down a language which only a tiny proportion of people ever, ever want to write in (Hindu Eulerian Peanoan MathScript).
    Previously you would use: Reference books or a long-suffering academic friend.

  • Regexr and Regulex. For writing and understanding complex regexes, respectively. Not sure how anyone coped without them, tbh.
    Previously you would use: Your mighty analytical BRAIN (trial and error).

  • Diffchecker.
    is awful, so awful. This site looks really nice but is a bad idea, since you're broadcasting source code all over the place.
    Previously you would use: Beyond Compare or WinMerge.

  • HTTPSE. Just an extension to fix the internet for you while the IETF sit on their hands.
    Previously you would use: Your hands like an animal.

  • Hola. Regional VPN so you can see if people in foreign lands can see your website and no other reason.
    Previously you would use: Ryanair.

  • Stupidhackathon. Satire? Possibly, but even so you need these things in your life.
    Previously you would use: your time better

  • Musicforprogramming. Amazing, engineered ambient playlists, long enough for a sizeable unit of work, short enough to punctuate your day. No data on their effect on output; the Mozart effect is bunk. I have heard of like a quarter of the artists here. My favourites are #8, #10, #26 and especially #27.
    Previously you would use: Spotify and your awful pop-punk playlist.