50 Noteworthy New Open Source Apps

Check out these newer open source tools for development, database management, collaboration, science and more.


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Open source software is always in flux. New projects are being born every day, and from time to time, we like to shine a spotlight on those that seem particularly promising.

As we compiled this list, a few trends stood out. First was the sheer volume of projects surrounding JavaScript and Web development. Many of these relate to the creation of mobile apps and/or HTML5 technology.

The second trend is closely related to the first—cross-platform or platform-independent apps. Web-based apps that will work on any operating system are becoming much more common than those designed for a particular OS.

Last is the trend toward open source principles spreading beyond software. Every project on the list includes open source code, but in some cases that code is being used to write an open source book or to do open source science where anyone is welcome to participate.

These are 50 good projects that have come to light in the last couple of years, but there are sure to be plenty more out there that didn't get included. If you know of one (or more) that we should have put on this list, please make a note in the comments section below.


1. The Accessibility Project

Launched earlier this year, this site aims to provide information on making other websites accessible to people with a variety of impairments, particularly those who are blind. You can read the content at the link above; if you'd like to contribute, visit the project's GitHub page. Operating System: OS Independent


2. Probabilistic Programming & Bayesian Methods for Hackers

This is something new—an open source book on programming written in Python. And because it's open source, anyone can contribute, and the book keeps getting updated and improved. Operating System: OS Independent


3. InterTwinkles

If you're working with a group online, it can be really difficult to reach a decision. This platform (and MIT dissertation project) aims to make it easier to reach consensus without meeting in person. Operating System: OS Independent

Database Tools/Data Management

4. BlinkDB

Still an alpha release, BlinkDB is a "massively parallel, approximate query engine for running interactive SQL queries on large volumes of data." In some tests it performed up to 200 times faster than Hive. Operating System: Windows, Linux

5. Poderopedia

This award-winning project makes it possible to set up large semantic databases where you can visualize connections between entities. It's particularly useful for journalists and media organizations tracking the relationships between people, corporations and political entities. Operating System: Windows, Linux

6. TokuDB/TokuMX

Open-sourced this year, TokuDB is a performance engine that speeds up MySQL. TokuMX does the same thing for MongoDB. Both are also available in a paid enterprise version. Operating System: Windows, Linux

Data Visualization

7. D3.js

Short for Data-Driven Documents, D3 makes full use of newer Web standards to help users create interesting graphs and diagrams of their data. It grew out of the older Protovis project, and has been gaining more attention in the last couple of years. Operating System: Windows, Linux, Mac, iPad

Development Tools

8. Bootstrap

First released by Twitter in 2011, Bootstrap is a front-end framework for Web development that aims to speed the development process. It takes a mobile-first approach and compiles code to pure CSS. Operating System: OS Independent

9. Bower

Also created by Twitter, Bower is a front-end package manager for the Web. It works with any type of package and runs over Git. Operating System: OS Independent

10. Brackets

This Adobe project is currently one of the most popular on GitHub, though it's still a preview release. It's a code editor built with Web technologies for developers who are working in Web technologies. Operating System: OS Independent

11. Chaplin.js

This HTML5 application architecture solution works with the Backbone.js library. It aims to help developers create single-page, scalable Web applications very quickly. Operating System: Windows, Linux

12. CodeMirror

CodeMirror is a browser-based text editor. Basically, it allows Website developers to embed a code editor in their sites, which is useful if you're creating a site that offers programming tutorials. In addition to desktop browsers, it also works with many mobile browsers. Operating System: OS Independent

13. Conditionizr

This tool allows websites to recognize the browser in use and serve up conditional files accordingly. It's great for situations where users are running older versions of browsers that don't support modern HTML and CSS features. Operating System: OS Independent

14. CoVim

This plug-in adds collaborative features to the Vim text editor. It's sort of like Google Docs for Vim. Operating System: Windows, Linux, OS X

15. Ember.js

There are a lot of JavaScript Web development frameworks out there—this one calls itself "a framework for creating ambitious Web applications. It aims to make developers more productive immediately. Operating System: OS Independent

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Tags: open source, Linux, open source apps

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