Web Technology Year in Review: 2013

2013 has shown us some fascinating new tools and technologies.

This year at Panoptic, we’ve been able to work on some awesome projects for organizations like Ride Connection and Lifespan. Our engineering team has been able to play with lots of interesting technologies, so here’s a quick run-down of three favorites.

1. Rails Admin

Rails Admin is a feature-packed administrative interface generator for Ruby on Rails applications. When one of our Rails apps needed a back-end interface for data entry and data management, Rails Admin saved us a ton of time. Rails Admin auto-discovers your data models, figures out what types of fields to use for different data types and associations, and is simple to configure. Searching, filtering, and spreadsheet export also come out-of-the-box. We really like Rails Admin because it strikes a good balance between a simple setup and powerful features.

Above: Rails Admin list view.

2. Meteor.js

Meteor.js is a open-source web app framework built on node.js, intended for real-time applications. Unlike many front-end Javascript frameworks such as Ember.js or Backbone.js, Meteor exists on both the server and client-sides. This allows developers to maintain a single codebase, written in a single programming language, for both the front- and back-ends of web applications. Meteor.js automatically syncs data between the database and all active clients, allowing you to easily create some amazing demos of real-time software. We haven’t built any client applications with Meteor yet, but our engineering team has been building some prototypes and is itching to get something released!

Read more about Meteor at meteor.com.

3. Django 1.5.x and 1.6.x

Django is a full-stack web framework built-in Python. It combines a robust ORM, advanced templating features, and a very powerful admin interface, allowing it to perform well in many problem domains. We’ve been using Django for several years at Panoptic, but the 1.5.x and 1.6.x releases this year saw some amazing features released. In particular, we were delighted to hear that database schema migrations are now part of Django core. Additionally, these releases included improved geospatial features, a configurable admin user model, and Python 3 support.

Above: Editing geospatial data in the Django admin interface. Check out more detailed Django documentation at djangoproject.com.

This summarizes just a few of the new technologies we’ve been playing with in 2013. What new technologies have excited your team this year?

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