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Wednesday, October 24, 2012

JSter - JavaScript Frontend Libraries in One Place

As you might well know it can be really difficult to find JavaScript libraries at times. This was actually one of the reasons why I ended up starting JSwiki and later on (see the blog post as well). Those services are not ideal but they sort of solve the problem to some extent. At least they serve as an index the community may maintain.

A couple of months ago an Ukrainian guy, Michael Bodnarchuk, contacted me. He maintains a resource index for Symfony, a PHP framework. He thought we should join forces and build something similar but for JavaScript. I agreed with his proposal. As a result was born.

Compared to the earlier efforts JSter takes things into a more structured direction. One of the biggest innovations for me was the introduction of a two-tiered architecture. While Michael is primarily responsible for frontend I was tasked with the backend. To make things nice and scalable I decided to implement a RESTful API. The backend runs on Heroku and uses MongoDB document database to store the library data while Michael hosts the frontend on his own servers.

Currently the API is for our internal usage only. It might make sense, however, to give read-only access to the public. Someone could build a primitive package manager on top of that even. I for one would find that somewhat useful. Perhaps that would be a nice extension to this project.

I hope the current version of JSter is just a mere glance of what it could be. There are several ideas bubbling that could make it a lot more useful. These include several usability tweaks and a revisioning REST API. The latter would allow us to make it more like a conventional wiki and make it easier for people to modify the content.

Take a look at JSter and let me know what you think. Feel free to contact me either directly through the comments or use that "Problems" widget at the site to notify us about any possible issues you might find. That is actually Michael's product, Bugira, in action.