Since we are nearing the end of 2013, it’s time once again for our annual look at some free scripts that we feel are exceptional enough to warrant keeping an eye on in 2014. Scripts on our watch list meet some demanding criteria — they must be functional and easy to use, but they also must offer something above and beyond the expected in terms of features and innovation. So, without further ado, here are the 25 scripts that made it onto our list for 2014.
Web-based email clients don’t come any easier than RainLoop. Free for personal and non-profit use, it employs a minimum of resources, supports IMAP and SMTP protocols, and is super-simple to install. With multiple account support, plugins to add even more functionality, and integration with Facebook, Google, Twitter and Dropbox, this is one to watch — especially as social media increasingly dominates the web landscape.
Freelancers in particular will appreciate this free project management application. Each project can be broken down by details, contacts, calendar, tasks, files, and notes, all in a simple and attractive interface. Installation requires a Linux server, PHP 5.3+ and MySQL. The source code is freely available as well for those who want to change things up.
Tired of the same-old favicon? Favico.js lets you jazz them up with animation, badges, images, or videos. The script works on Chrome, Firefox, and Opera (but is not yet functional on IE 10+). Customization of the background color, text color, position, and type of animation (e.g., fade, slide, pop) are all easily accomplished. Icons can be created from an image, video, or even a webcam stream.
Anyone who has to transfer large files over the internet knows how important it is to have an FTP program that is easy to use. Monsta takes FTP to another level with cloudware that lets you drag and drop files directly into your browser. On Firefox you can even drag and drop folders. The open source GNU license includes all the PHP/Ajax code and supports Linux and Windows OS — all with only 2 files to install.
Fluid layouts are incredibly attractive, and MixItUp provides an easy way to add this functionality to any type of content, not just image galleries. The script uses jQuery in combination with filters you put in place telling it which content to show, re-position, or hide. CSS transitions are then activated to animate the whole process. Although designed for CSS3-ready browsers and therefore focused on the future of web design, it will degrade in older browser versions to a hide/show filter. Free for both commercial and non-commercial use.
If you have an image gallery that needs an update in functionality, CollagePlus may be just the ticket. A jQuery plugin, it takes images and arranges them in a container that you define. It works even if you do not already know the sizes of all the images you want to display, making it easy to integrate images from sources that don’t specify image size for you. Six CSS3 transitions are included in the plugin, but of course you can code your own if you wish.
For webmasters and developers, knowing whether or not a site visitor is on a mobile device is vital in today’s multi-device environment. This PHP class code uses the user-agent string in combination with specific HTTP headers as a means of detecting mobile devices, including tablets. It’s also available as a plugin for WordPress, Drupal, Joomla, Magento, and others. MobileDetect is associated with BrowserStack, which is a nice tool for testing apps on different browsers.
This script takes charts — often a bland and boring part of business presentations — to a new level of attractiveness by adding animation to the mix. Six different chart types are offered – line, bar, pie, radar, polar area, and doughnut — with many customization options for each.
When you want autocomplete functionality for a search box on your website, this jQuery plugin developed by the open source group at Twitter could be just the ticket. Configuration options include ranking, matching, engine templates, and rendering; plus it’s optimized to search huge databases. The code is on GitHub and you will need jQuery 1.9+ prior to loading. One great feature is how it works well with Right-To-Left (RTL) languages and Input Method Editors (IMEs).
Instead of using a variety of different pieces of software to put together the code for a new website, consider ICEcoder, which lets you code within your web browser (whether you are online or offline). Free, lightweight, and fast, it can also be used on the desktop via localhost. Open-source provides the ability to customize, and it is multi-user with a secure login feature. ICEcoder has a huge variety of features, including broken tag indication, a find-and-replace builder, nesting display, and JS Hint to help keep code accurate.
Need a quick and easy live chat app? Kandan makes collaboration in real-time possible with a minimum of fuss with a web-based client that is supported in Chrome, Firefox, and Safari. Desktop notification and drag-and-drop file sharing make this app much more than a simple chat script. Based on Rails, it’s free and open source under the AGPL License. Supported service providers at the current time include Heroku, appfor, Cloud Foundry, and Amazon Web Services.
Making sure that your websites are available and functioning correctly is a must-do in this competitive landscape. The Uptime app from RedoTheWeb will make this task much easier with their script providing simple HTTP remote monitoring via Node.js, MongoDB, and Twitter Bootstrap. Reporting functionality, the ability to monitor thousands of sites, details on failed checks, email and/or on-screen notification of problems, and much more — all open-source for additional customization.
With so many social media outlets vying for one’s time, it can be difficult to keep up with them all. Infinite Social Wall lets you collect all your social streams in one place and arrange them using CSS3 transitions to add visual appeal as well as functionality. The current social networks supported include Google Plus, GitHub, Pinterest, Twitter, Stackoverflow, Reddit, and Instagram. The app uses RSS feeds in a MySQL backend and a hosted version is said to be on the way.
Tired of having to check into a whole bunch of plugins to get the functionality you need and taking risks with unwanted interactions and browser problems? jKit is an all-in-one toolkit filled with a large collection of popular jQuery-based functions that offers an easier route. At the moment, 44 items are in the toolkit’s library, ranging from a lightbox, to parallax effect, to navigation, to carousels, content pagination, live iframe updates, and much more. Before looking around for individual scripts, look to jKit and see if it can save you time and effort.
Recently recoded from an earlier version, FerroSlider uses HTML5 and CSS3 to let you organize content on your websites as a sliding gallery or — in the case of a one-page website — as a slider. It’s compatible with all major browsers and the Android and iOS mobile environments. Organize your contents by row, column, or in a custom setup termed “The Matrix.” Requirements are jQuery 1.9+ and Rico Sta. Cruz’s jQuery Transit plugin to power the transitions.
Showing local weather information is a very popular feature on websites, but most scripts don’t give you much control over which weather details are included in the display. SimpleWeather is a very simple JQuery plugin (with a WordPress version) that gives you the ability to choose to display (or not display) a large number of weather-related tidbits for easy customization. An additional plus is that it can be integrated to change site design or images depending upon current weather.
Choose when to activate those all-important social sharing buttons with this script. It can load and activate them when the document loads, by page scrolling, on hover, and other events. Placeholder images are used to display the button before it actually loads for a seamless look. Supported buttons and widgets include Twitter, Google Plus, Facebook, and LinkedIn; Pinterest, Spotify, Hacker News, and GitHub are extensions. Socialite is also available as a WordPress plugin.
So much is happening with new projects and revisions to existing projects on open-source repositories that it’s almost impossible to keep up without spending a lot of time doing so. GitList lets you quickly browse repositories via a clean, uncluttered interface that nicely organizes files, commits, and stats of a project. The script is free and written in PHP on top of Silex and the Twig template engine.
A favorite of writers dealing with programming topics, Easybook is an easy way to publish an ebook in a collection of different formats (PDF, ePub, MOBI, or HTML5 website) in a flash (e.g., 700 pages in 4 seconds). In addition to the usual features one expects from a digital publishing script, it includes three choices for handling code format to fit different developer needs.
Need some text, HTML, Markdown, or LaTeX converted into a different format, such as PDF, Microsoft Docx, MOBI or ePUB (among others)? Docverter takes your original, converts it initially through Pandoc, and then into additional, customized converters to perfect the final format. It’s all done in seconds via a simple HTTP API, so the days of setting up your own document conversion tools are long gone.
Designers and developers of image-based sites like those used to showcase a photographer’s portfolio will be interested in Koken, a free tool for doing so. The desktop interface will keep media files organized and readily available, and integration of material from Flickr, Instagram, Vimeo, SoundCloud, and Twitter is incredibly easy. The live site can be previewed and edited via existing controls or your own CSS. Eight built-in responsive themes are included and the script syncs with Adobe Photoshop Lightroom. Requirements include PHP 5.2.0 or higher, MySQL 5 or higher and ImageMagick or GD.