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Ractive aims to bring Web programming to the masses

Joab Jackson | March 2, 2015
The developers of a JavaScript library for building interactive user interfaces are hoping their work will make Web programming more accessible for part-time programmers.

Funded in part by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Ractive was developed so that it could be used by programming novices.

The library does not require external dependencies, or other programs that must be in place before the program can be used. The Ractive site has a set of tutorials, with code that can be easily copied and reused. Extra work was taken to craft error messages so they make sense, and link to further documentation online.

Ractive has already found a place in some large-scale Web sites. The Yellow Pages, the National Football League and the French Finance firm AXA have used the library for various tasks. It also is used for most of the Guardian's own interactive graphics.

In technical terms, Ractive provides the ability for the programmer to create a set of templates that can be dynamically populated with data or logic. It acts as a virtual DOM (Document Object Model), or an intermediary to the browser's own DOM, which the browser uses to parse HTML.

Ractive is not the only template-based JavaScript library using this approach. Meteor.js and the latest update to Handlebars.js use approaches similar to Ractive. "To me, that means it is an idea that makes sense," Harris said.

 

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