n2liquid's sandbox

jsdo.it — Gist-like experience focused on HTML5, CSS3, and JavaScript

Posted on: June 14, 2011

I don’t know if I’m just utterly lazy or what, but in many occasions I didn’t try out some brilliant layout, CSS or JavaScript idea or insight simply because I had to open up a code editor and a browser window, and find somewhere to save the test files.

Recently, though, I found what I think is gotta be the solution for this problemthe very fittingly named jsdo.it web-service:

jsdo.it's "Start coding" button

In a way, it reminds of Github’s “Gist” service, but with jsdo.it you actually get to try things out real easy (only HTML/CSS/JS, though).

It officially reads “J.S. Do It”, but I absolutely can’t unspeak “Just Do It” out of my mind, which makes a lot of sense for me. Dunno whether this was the name’s original intent.

As far as I could tell, the service was set up by a japanese company called KAYAC Inc., and the site is pretty much flooded by japanese users, which I think can be great for people who, like me, are trying to make some nihonjin contacts.

They also have a “tour” page at http://jsdo.it/tour worth visiting.

Anyways, jsdo.it works like this:

  1. People rapidly create their accounts using OAuth-like login.
  2. People write HTML5/CSS3/JavaScript code right in the browser and see where their code is going almost in realtime, and use tags to categorize their stuff.Actually you do have to keep hitting “Save” to see the changes, but it really got into the development flow for me, and the result appears in the same window as the sources, so it’s harder to get distracted from e.g., alt-tabbing windows around.
  3. Other people fork your code, and edit it the same way it was written (in-browser).
  4. People publish tiny URL’s on IM, Twitter, et al, for people to try out their snippets. For example, today I wrote this: http://jsrun.it/n2liquid/8YFt.
  5. People favorite snippets, follow each others’ updates around (like Twitter), and post code-related questions with code attached, which others can fork and make small changes to better illustrate their answers or help you solve a problem.
  6. ???
  7. Profit.

Long story short, I didn’t usually try webdev things out, and now, because of jsdo.it, I’m doing it every now and then.

What’s funny is that jsdo.it’s usability, just like the vast majority of japanese websites’ usability, is not one of the best there is out there.

The editor gets a bit slow if you enter too much code, and for some reason it overflows a bit the page (and they’ve used html { overflow: hidden }, so I always have to fix that using Firebug and the likes…).

Further, I didn’t like much how the Q&A system works. You add a “question” tag to your code and I don’t know what happens next. Didn’t try it, but seems loosy and could be better developed. My opinion here, you yourself might love it.

From what I could see, there’s just a handful of people actively posting interesting stuff there, but the concept is still great. I wish more people used the service. It could be a lot funnier if I saw some familiar faces there.

Definitely try the service out. It’s very fast to do so, and the service is lacking some more gaijin there (:

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