Explorable Explorations by Bret Victor

A Look at Tangle, an Interactive Javascript Kit

by Cynthia Kirkeby

Tangle is a lightweight javascript library that can be used with any framework of your choice.  There are no dependencies and it provides a very simple API for tangling your documents (making your document values amazingly interactive). I learned about Bret in a YouTube video called Inventing on Principle.  It’s one of my favorite presentations on programming and I’m happy to share it with you below:

To begin an exploration of Tangle download the TangleKit, install it on your server, open the sample Tangle Template and start exploring. There’s an active Google user group for Tangle, and they’ve answered a lot of basic questions.  I think there are all sorts of simulations on the web that would benefit from this programming integration.  The actual coding is remarkably easy, and the engagement with your users has the potential to be quite high.  If you’re coding in Javascript, this is a tool set that you should definitely take a look at and put in your bag of tricks.  For examples of Tangle take a look at Bret’s “Getting Started” section.

Bret’s video is also full of really sound advice for designing in general.  The idea that fundamental concepts of design should drive the way our tools are formed is incredibly on point. All too often, tools are designed in such a way that they become an impedance to creative solutions instead of a facilitation of them.  I”m looking forward to more coding organizations embracing the transparency of coding that Bret demonstrates in Tangle. I think it will entice more people to engage in coding and development of more meaningful and engaging projects.