10 most useful Google Chrome experiments
When it comes to presenting graphically oriented programs through a browser, the usual go-to development platforms have been Adobe Flash and -- to a lesser extent -- Microsoft Silverlight. But other, more open technologies are starting to show promise.
1.Canvas Sketch: Fingerpainting for mobile devices
Canvas Sketch has the very basics of a paint program: freehand and line drawing, eraser, and fill tools; and tools to draw rectangular and circular shapes. Its color palette is limited to 26 colors, and no image can be larger than 501 by 334 pixels.
2. Impressionist: Monet-ize your photos
This image-manipulation tool is designed to do only one thing: convert a photograph into what looks like a painting. You start by uploading your image file to the Impressionist server. From there, you apply the oil-paint effect in one of two ways.
The first is by a freehand drawing method. You choose your brush size and shape, and then paint over any areas of your picture where you want to apply an ersatz oil colors look.
But the second is the most fun. Upon selecting the desired brush shape, size and width, you click "start" and your picture then comes alive as if thousands of paint brushes are dabbing and swirling it with oil paints. (The colors are derived from your original image's palette.) This real-time rendering runs continuously until you stop it. Using Impressionist just to watch this effect in motion is hypnotic.
3. Sketchpad: Drawing made easy
Its tools (such as for drawing, cropping and masking) work smoothly, as do its toolbar and canvas windows when you click on and drag to reposition them in the work area. Sketchpad's other strength is its huge variety of built-in patterns and gradients you can use in your image -- there's even a "spirograph" drawing tool.
4 Twitterbrowse: Find friends and followers
Enter the username of a Twitter account into its search box, and twitterbrowse pulls up the user photos of the friends and followers for that person, laying them out into a grid. These images can be sorted alphabetically, or by friends or followers. When you re-sort, the photos neatly shuffle into the selected order.
Click on the user photo of a friend or follower, and information about the total number of friends and followers for that username will slide out from the right side of the user photo. You can then click a link to jump to a new page where you can browse through the friends and followers -- arranged into its own grid -- for that selected Twitter user.
Slick as this is, it would be cool if its developer could add reading and writing tweets to his demo. That would make twitterbrowse a great alternative user interface for using Twitter.
5. Vectomatic: Vector graphics for dummies
Although a demo, this vector graphics drawing program is almost a complete application that it would be a shame if its developer didn't finish it up. In its current version, Vectomatic still works well if you want to create simple vectorized graphics, and do so quickly. Or if you want to learn the basics of drawing vector graphics.
You can instantly draw rectangles and ellipses, and other shapes can be created using the point-by-point plotting "path" or the "poly" (for making curves) tools. The color selection system looks rudimentary and lacking, but you can adjust the range of each color. The stacking order of shape layers can be manipulated.
There's one setback: you can't save your work, nor can you export it to the SVG file format -- for now, Vectomatic can only render your art out as a finalized Web page image.
6. World of Solitaire: Full-featured card game
What would a day at the office be without a game of computer solitaire? (Answer: more productive?) Kidding aside, there are a number of games featured at Google's Chrome Experiments, but this is the one that both feels complete and is universally appealing to anyone who has needed a break during the work day by playing a few hands of the virtual card game that seems to be installed by default on virtually every PC in the world.
7. Bomomo: Doodling gone wild
This app is a cross between a drawing program and game. Or, perhaps the better way to describe Bomomo is that it's an interactive graphics toy. Seven brushes trail along the path of your desktop arrow cursor. These brushes are in constant motion when you draw with them, so the result is a random doodle created with multiple points of origin. (Different colors are also randomly thrown in.) You can choose from 20 pattern sets, which determine the way these brushes move (in circular or straight-line motion) and their brush size. Images can be saved in PNG format.
8. Harmony: Brush up on your painting
This very basic drawing tool simulates a pencil-sketch effect. The standout feature is its unique selection of brushes. For example, the "web" brush generates spider-web designs; and two brushes create a furry look. The effect of these brushes is more pronounced the faster you move them across the canvas -- when you move the "squares" brush slowly, small rectangles are created. As you move this brush faster, the size of the rectangles this brush spews out grows in size. Your images can be saved as PNG files.
9. HasCanvas: Create sketches and learn code
10. Social Collider: Re-tweet tracker
Wen reports on technology news, trends and products. He can be reached here.
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