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The "how to" remix

Making code accessible again: Glitch brings back “view source”

Jane Elizabeth
Glitch
© Shutterstock / Alex_Bond

Coding has gotten complicated and the barrier to entry for beginners is getting higher by the day. Glitch is here to bring back the creativity to the internet, by letting anyone remix their way to the app, bot, or website of their dreams.

Back in the early days of the internet, anyone could peek at the html that made websites work with a simple “view source”. It made learning how to code websites easy and meritocratic. But things have changed a lot since those wild, halcyon days. Have you taken a look at “view source” for Google these days? It looks like Unmodified Sumerian.

Enter Glitch. Billed as a “friendly community where you’ll build the app of your dreams”, Glitch is ideal for beginners or a developer who wants to tweak with a cool project they saw in GitHub. And it’s all done up in the raddest 90s nostalgia style I’ve seen in years.

 

Glitch

Back to the drawing board

No one starts from scratch on Glitch. Programmers of all levels can tinker with the basic code of an existing project. Make any changes you want! Change colors, change sizes, change fonts, go wild! There are a number of community projects available as examples to help provide examples of specific functions on Glitch.

Helpfully, there’s an entire “Learn to Code” section for beginners or developers who need a bit of a refresher. There’s a beginner’s guide out there for everyone, from HTML and JavaScript to Lua and Node.js. “Hello Worlds” is also particularly well developed.

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Once you’ve got that sorted, it’s time to create your own app. Glitch allows a lot of collaboration when working on projects. According to Glitch, there’s no need for complicated version control — the built-in editor lets you, and anybody else you invite, edit code all at once and undo mistakes as they happen. It’s like the Google Docs of coding.

Helpfully, Glitch also lets you import and export code directly to GitHub.

Open to everyone

The team behind Glitch wants to make it clear that it isn’t a “dumbed down” version of a real developer environment. Actually, it works the same as any other cloud infrastructure + Node.js engine that all the “real developers” use for their apps. It’s just easier to get started with a friendly pastel background and totally radical environment.

Glitch comes from Fog Creek, the same folks who brought us Stack Overflow and Trello. (They do good work!) It’s free to use and everything is written in Javascript. (However, everything is run in Node.js.)

“Hands-on tinkering works—as educators and hackers have long known,” said Clive Thompson of Wired. “And as tech gets increasingly complex, we have to make sure tinkering is not only possible but also encouraged. Let people twiddle the knobs and you demystify the world.”

Author
Jane Elizabeth
Jane Elizabeth is an assistant editor for JAXenter.com

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