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Ben Halpern
Ben Halpern

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What software projects made you "wow" ๐Ÿคฏ

Be it a historical project, a brilliantly built npm package, an application, etc. What has struck you as an incredible feat of software development?

It doesn't have to be massive in scope, it could just be one awesomely thought out class, but if you've ever been incredibly impressed, let's hear about it.

Discussion (97)

anku profile image
Ankit Tiwari

For me, it is going to be the VS Code Editor. It is an incredible piece of software. There are tons and tons of features baked into it but still its very simple to use.

The VS code dev team is phenomenal, they keep adding new features to it every month. Given how big and complex the application is, it is no easy feat to add major features every month.

maxart2501 profile image
Massimo Artizzu

Coming from Atom, I was pretty confident that making a modern, reliable and fast IDE based on Electron was basically impossible, if not even the creators of Electron could do it.

Glad I've been proven wrong.

nathankc profile image
Nathan K. Campbell

one could say the same thing about GitHub Desktop which is woefully lacking - thankfully GitKraken is pretty great

Thread Thread
jsn1nj4 profile image
Elliot Derhay

Heck yes, especially for those who prefer to see the graph.

ben profile image
Ben Halpern Author

The wow factor was so clear for early adoptors of VSCode and that was what really got my attention in the first place. It wasn't any one feature, it was the observation that people just loved it.

Wrote a bit about that way back.

kyleboe profile image
Kyle Boe

Agreed. One of the most insane part of VS Code for me is how quickly it went from being a laughing stock to the de-facto editor.

Low-key shout out to Satya Nadella.

jithinks profile image
Jithin KS


jacoby profile image
Dave Jacoby • Edited on

I found a bug in it. From the command line, if a filename could be interpreted as a number, it would be. For me, it was 2551.e12456872, which, as it turns out, is scientific notation.

Once I reported it, they pegged it as a Minimist issue, and the fix came out in ... < 2 weeks?

Which raises my opinion of the program and the team. +1.

terabytetiger profile image
Tyler V. (he/him)

This is an excellent answer! VS Code has a je ne sais quoi about it that makes it so wonderful to work with!

adam_cyclones profile image
Adam Crockett • Edited on

Vscode always reminds me of the early iPhone adverts "there's an app for that" catchphrase.

foresthoffman profile image
Forest Hoffman

I've actually said, "oh, there's an extension for that" at work before ๐Ÿคฃ

shiling profile image
Shi Ling • Edited on

Anything that @devdevcharlie builds blows my mind.

Controlling devices with my mind was the stuff of my dreams. It's now a reality!

One step closer to being a wizard.

evanoman profile image
Evan Oman

Really amazing stuff. The front-end integration is neat but the face-reading and brain-reading is happening on the backend with Emotiv's tooling

adam_cyclones profile image
Adam Crockett

Wow how do I get the hardware for that!

prahladyeri profile image
Prahlad Yeri • Edited on

The Linux Kernel Project without a doubt! It is both a historical project and has tremendous historical importance because it got the ball rolling in the early nineties that led to innumerable innovations in open source and free software world!

GNU was just an alpha experimental prior to that. If Linus hadn't started that thing, it was pretty much impossible to have an alternative working operating system today, be it for desktops or web servers. I doubt we'd be even using the word "open source" today, were it not for Linux.

mvoloskov profile image
Miloslav ๐Ÿณ๏ธโ€๐ŸŒˆ ๐Ÿฆ‹ Voloskov • Edited on


The small helper utility that was never actually meant for anyone but linux team basically became our industry's no-brainer.

And it also can shred huge amounts of data without fancy stuff, just plain old C.

torianne02 profile image
Victoria Crawford • Edited on

Honestly, Rails. When I first learned it about a year ago now, I thought it was a cool product that made my life easier but didn't really understand how.

Fast forward to 2 months ago when I was given a coding challenge to create a Ruby API without using Rails...holy cow did I realize how much is done behind the scenes that I wasn't aware of. It made me appreciate and understand Rails so much more.

gypsydave5 profile image
David Wickes

What did you use in the end?

torianne02 profile image
Victoria Crawford

I ended up using Sequel as my ORM instead of Active Record, Sinatra as my framework, and Grape.

nickytonline profile image
Nick Taylor • Edited on

Even though people complain about it a lot, the Electron project is pretty impressive and enabled a whole slew of apps to be developed by leveraging people's web skills.

GitHub logo electron / electron

:electron: Build cross-platform desktop apps with JavaScript, HTML, and CSS

Electron Logo

CircleCI Build Status AppVeyor Build Status devDependency Status

๐Ÿ“ Available Translations: ๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ณ ๐Ÿ‡น๐Ÿ‡ผ ๐Ÿ‡ง๐Ÿ‡ท ๐Ÿ‡ช๐Ÿ‡ธ ๐Ÿ‡ฐ๐Ÿ‡ท ๐Ÿ‡ฏ๐Ÿ‡ต ๐Ÿ‡ท๐Ÿ‡บ ๐Ÿ‡ซ๐Ÿ‡ท ๐Ÿ‡น๐Ÿ‡ญ ๐Ÿ‡ณ๐Ÿ‡ฑ ๐Ÿ‡น๐Ÿ‡ท ๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡ฉ ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ฆ ๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ฟ ๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡น ๐Ÿ‡ต๐Ÿ‡ฑ View these docs in other languages at electron/i18n.

The Electron framework lets you write cross-platform desktop applications using JavaScript, HTML and CSS. It is based on Node.js and Chromium and is used by the Atom editor and many other apps.

Follow @ElectronJS on Twitter for important announcements.

This project adheres to the Contributor Covenant code of conduct By participating, you are expected to uphold this code. Please report unacceptable behavior to


To install prebuilt Electron binaries, use npm The preferred method is to install Electron as a development dependency in your app:

npm install electron --save-dev [--save-exact]

The --save-exact flag is recommended for Electron prior to version 2, as it does not follow semantic versioning. As of version 2.0.0, Electron follows semver, soโ€ฆ

An image of an electron in action

voanhcuoc profile image
Khoa Che

Electron itself is great. Electron apps aren't.

I think, all Electron apps should share a common engine runtime, or even use the runtime of system Chrome/Chromium for a fast boot up.

dangxquang profile image

Just wonder how VSCode so light (~70MB) vs other electron apps (just hello-word apps already ~200MB).

Thread Thread
voanhcuoc profile image
Khoa Che

bradtaniguchi profile image
Brad • Edited on

I was blown away by stackblitz.

Basically VSCode in your browser that can do the following:

  • Works offline (!!!)
  • live-code reload
  • Stupid fast (like faster than npm/yarn fast)
  • url hosting
  • Deploy directly into the cloud

I found out the entire system works by using PWA apis to basically run a lot of nodejs features for vscode in your browser. (which is why it works offline) So there isn't some container running your application somewhere, its all "local" which is why its so fast.

Pretty magical if you ask me :D

vonheikemen profile image

Thats redux-thunk for me. Never thought 14 lines could cause so much confusion to so many people.

Most recently tagmeme a cool implementation of tagged-unions in plain javascript.

tammalee profile image
Tammy Lee

When CSS was invented my mind was blown.
How can style code live in a SEPARATE FILE from your HTML?
Up until that point, we'd been using tag attributes for styling!
I can remember calling a friend in NYC to try to figure it out together.

quinncuatro profile image
Henry Quinn

Is this something a couple browsers implemented at the same time?

Or did you have to bundle some sort of compiler in with your website code to have the CSS actually style your HTML?

tammalee profile image
Tammy Lee

No compilers were required!
The two browsers, as I recall, that supported it at the beginning were IE and Netscape Navigator.
It was a simpler time. Haha!

nathankc profile image
Nathan K. Campbell • Edited on

Timely answer:

Specifically the "Mission Control Audio" button and the dozens of isolated station channels you can listen to.

I especially enjoyed hearing either Glynn Lunney or Chris Kraft ask his secretary to bring him a hamburger and fries during TLI

jackharner profile image
Jack Harner ๐Ÿš€

This one's kind of specific, but the one thing that's stuck in my head for so long is the Bank of Canada's Landing page for their new $10 note.

More specifically, just how fluid and smooth the animation on flipping the bill around, the way the edges twist depending on how fast you turn it, the reflective parts reflecting, all of it.

I stumbled across it in some non-programming Reddit thread on my old (super slow) phone, and that blew my mind even more.

highcenburg profile image
Vicente Reyes

Wow! This is the first time I saw this. ๐Ÿคฏ

terabytetiger profile image
Tyler V. (he/him)

The most ๐Ÿคฏ I've ever felt was working through Ali's Vue intro guide for the first time:

I've been all in on Vue since working through this and every time I do something new with it I think "Holy Wow! That was magic!"

khalyomede profile image

Agree, vue is really mind blowing for his kind. SPA in general also, such a wonderful tech!

cjbrooks12 profile image
Casey Brooks

Kotlin coroutines.

It's incredible how simple and intuitive they make async programming. Getting comfortable with these makes me realize that Rx, async-await, promises, and all those other patterns/libraries are really just band-aids over the core problem. Coroutines actually fix that core issue, and the solution is so elegant and well-executed. It's really hard to explain well, you just have to try it out and be amazed for yourself.

gypsydave5 profile image
David Wickes

You should definitely look into Scheme ๐Ÿ˜‰

piyukore06 profile image
Priyanka Kore • Edited on

Bellwoods is a generative arts game created by Matt DesLauriers

Every time I think of it .. the colors and music makes me go "wow" ๐Ÿ˜

mandaputtra profile image
Manda Putra

Hey where are the list of the game? I can't access it :(

piyukore06 profile image
Priyanka Kore

Heyy .. It was a part of this competition .. Here's the link to the entry, hope this one works for ya

kyleboe profile image
Kyle Boe

Because VS Code has already been mentioned, I have to mention Discord. Their engineering team is nutty. Making everything Just Workโ„ข and at a mind-blowing scale.

sturzl profile image
Avery • Edited on

Rosie which is part of Operaรงรฃo Serenata de Amor.

Rosie is "an artificial intelligence who analyzes Brazilian congresspeople expenses while they are in office. Rosie can find suspicious spendings and engage citizens in the discussion about these findings."

Hear from the creators on their interview with The Changelog

danjconn profile image
Dan Conn

A long time ago, in a galaxy far far away, there was such a thing called IE6 and IE7 which often did not want to play the same as other Jedi browsers, but wanted to play to its own standards, both for CSS and JavaScript.

This made Dan Skywalker sad. Very very sad. Also JavaScript at this time was a very clunky language, and due to this led Dan Skywalker to the wonderful light of back end development, but that's another story.

Fighting JavaScript was very tough for Dan Skywalker, but luckily after a while he found The Force......


It may be considered old hat now, but it was like magic when it first came out. I would argue it was the one thing that rocketed the usage of JavaScript as a language and also stopped a thousand heart attacks caused by cross-browser standards worries.

Still amazing!

cubiclebuddha profile image
Cubicle Buddha • Edited on

The original wow for me was cross-env because up until Kent C Dodds made that libary, it was almost impossible to write NodeJS on a windows machine.

Or at least you couldn't write a NodeJS app that followed 12 Factor Apps' config rule

mykeels profile image
Backlog Slayer

You know, I'd been seeing cross-env in codebases I use, but never really paid much attention to it. I just checked out the repo because of your comment. Thanks for bringing it up.

alohci profile image
Nicholas Stimpson

Firebug. Old hat now, but when it first came out I couldn't believe how good it was. It was a game changer.

quinncuatro profile image
Henry Quinn

It was a bittersweet day when their tools became so ubiquitous that it didn't make sense for them to develop them anymore.

gypsydave5 profile image
David Wickes

Gmail... I don't doubt that it did ultimately trigger the web apps in the end - but did you know that it originally worked without JS, and it still does. ๐Ÿคฏ

mykeels profile image
Backlog Slayer

That's the basic html view, yea? Not the cool one we're used to.

Thread Thread
gypsydave5 profile image
David Wickes

We obviously have different definitions of 'cool' ๐Ÿ˜‰

Thread Thread
mykeels profile image
Backlog Slayer

Haha, so true! :D

adam_cyclones profile image
Adam Crockett

I guess the NSA comment was a pitch to get a job because you know they are listening ๐Ÿ˜‚ < ironically this emoji is inappropriate because it's probably true.

lewiskori profile image
Lewis kori

For me, it's definitely flutter. The fact that you can make both android and ios apps(and web applications soon)from one code base is just incredible to me. It's made me curious about UI development, something I consider myself very poor at. And the dart language used by flutter is simply elegant IMHO.

adam_cyclones profile image
Adam Crockett

A drone just buzzed my house, it looked heavily armed. Amazon delivery?

Thread Thread
seangwright profile image
Sean G. Wright

My Amazon Alexa just showed up and is listening to every word I say. NSA delivery?

Thread Thread
adam_cyclones profile image
Adam Crockett


piyukore06 profile image
Priyanka Kore

This is my second comment on this thread.. but I guess you can never run out of things that "wow" you :D

Recently I came across this AI research project from NVDIA called "GAUGAN" It is still in beta but .. It absolutely, most definitely blew my brains off. Man!! creativity has no limits ..

You can draw mountains, clouds, trees and bunch of other stuff on the top of images you want. And it renders the most real looking image.

There are other interesting projects from NVDIA could be found here

jmcp profile image
James McPherson

In no particular order:

  • the Sun 3/80 with PC coprocessor card
  • Connection Machine CM5
  • Linux (and Bill + Lyn Jollitz' articles on their port of Unix to the 386)
  • DTrace
  • ZFS
  • Netscape Navigator
  • nntp and rn
  • irc
  • VS Code
  • Apple's FaceTime and Find My Friends
  • XVM, KVM, and containerization
  • Python
phlash909 profile image
Phil Ashby • Edited on

Triggered :) ..and I'll throw in:

..the last two simply because of the insane volumes of data.

triptych profile image
Andrew Wooldridge

I would have to say the new Blender 2.8 ( ). I've always felt that Blender was super amazing, but was hampered by an obscure user interface. They've done a lot to fix that in the latest release, and it's simply a brilliant piece of software. It's like having a spellbook from a powerful mage, and in the right hands, it can do magic.

lewiscowles1986 profile image
Lewis Cowles


  • 90's point & click engines
  • Dark Reign & Dark Reign 2
  • World of Warcraft
  • Spore
  • No mans sky
  • Fallout 3, NV, 4


  • Windows 98
  • BeOS
  • Minix
  • Linux
  • BSD


  • Visual Basic 5 & 6
  • Visual Studio
  • SharpDevelop
  • Netbeans
  • Visual Studio Code
  • Macromedia Flash 4-8

Text Editors

  • GEdit
  • Hesky Data Software Pad
  • Helios Software Solutions - TextPad


  • Visual Studio
  • PDB (with pdbpp)

Project management & Productivity

  • Trello
  • WeKan

Creative & Design

  • PlantUML
  • Graphviz
  • flowmapp
  • Sony DVD & VCD creator (90's / 00's software)
  • Adobe InDesign & Macromedia / Adobe Fireworks

Any emulator that exists and works
WINE (because it's not an emulator)
linux/unix mount

Repeatability / IaC

  • Docker (specifically with compose)
  • VirtualBox
  • Ansible
  • Vagrant


  • The old tabbed CD browsers
  • Microsoft 1990's interactive CD-ROM's like Dangerous Creatures
  • SSH
  • Open source cryptography (OpenSSH, FreeTLS etc)
  • CURL (many other projects)
  • postman


  • PHP
  • Python
  • Golang
  • C & C++ standards communities
  • Rust


  • MySQL, Sqlite, postgres
  • Redis
  • MongoDB
  • Neo4J
  • Elasticsearch

Web Servers

  • Nginx (from apache & IIS, it kicks ass)

Content Generation

  • Jekyll
  • WordPress
  • Various automatic documentation generators


  • YouTube
  • Netflix
  • VLC
utkarsh profile image
Utkarsh Talwar

There's lots, but one that comes to mind right now is Canva. I remember being wowed by Canva when I first used it circa 2015, especially how easy it was to use and how quickly I could make good-looking graphics using it. It's just a really well thought out piece of software and I still use it to this day.

thefern profile image
Fernando B ๐Ÿš€

When the iPhone was launched my buddy bought one. I was playing it with and my mind was literally blown away by the user interface. Mind you at this point flip phones and slide phones were all the rage.

vuild profile image
Vuild • Edited on

How the first necessary leaps to create the web we use now happened (and as it is being discussed rn by some of the people who did it).
(I dunno how to use twitter so three links).

seanmclem profile image

Haunted, a library for web components that introduces react-like hooks. Coupled with efficient rendering libraries - and you have a pretty good feature set that's pretty close to Native.

gablaroche profile image
Gabriel Laroche

It may not be spectacular, and not at all incredible, but my very first html/js "app" blew my mind. It was during one of the first programming lessons in class and we had to create a little "app" that took a number and when we pressed the button, it would multiply that number by 0.15 (roughly the tax rate in Quรฉbec). I was amazed that it worked and that I coded that (be it with some basic instructions from the teacher).

simo97 profile image

1) The Qt project and it's very great and well written documentation, it helped me to learn english back in that time.

2) The SFML project, it was making it so simple to create 2D games with C++ compared to what i knew in C with SDL...

2) The Django framework, i was coming from a Symfony 2 + 3 with a bit of knowledge in Java (JSF, JSP, etc...) but when i discover the Django framework with his batteries already included, those was real talking about stuff like :

  • Class Based View
  • The simple but powerful ORM
  • the ready for use, simple but over extensible and powerful admin UI
  • The Django Shell based on Python
  • The incredibly simplicity when it's comes to add packages (even when they need to be change by me) or to extend feature and adapt them.
  • Its documentation
erikthered profile image
Erik Nelson • Edited on

It has to be Docker for me. Vagrant was decently impressive when it first came out, but Docker and Docker Compose really crushed it with being able to spin up a whole stack with just a few lines of yml (and the similarly succinct Dockerfile).

doug profile image

Lucene - it brought Google quality querying to the masses. I worked with an early C# port and it made my terrible website with an access database backend feel incredibly smart!

As amazing as it is, it was the excellent blog post and code from Tom White for his "Did you mean" that really blew me away (now only available via Wayback Machine, thanks for nothing, Oracle!).

I remember I adapted his spell index to use our own content rather than a dictionary to avoid suggesting words to users that weren't in our index, only to find spelling mistakes being suggested thanks to less diligent authors!

lukewestby profile image
Luke Westby
elmuerte profile image
Michiel Hendriks • Edited on

Everything by Fabrice Bellard.

brieucp profile image

First love : Firefox.
First mariage : Open street map !
First mistress : rust
Second mistress : docker.

And for the js part, anything by @webreflexion, especially heresy and heresy-ssr !

gdotdesign profile image
Szikszai Gusztรกv


Loads fast, works offline, very reliable.

mateus_vahl profile image
Mateus Vahl
ben profile image
Ben Halpern Author


deepu105 profile image
Deepu K Sasidharan • Edited on

There are many some of the more notable ones are

  1. GraalVM
  2. NodeJS
  3. JHipster
  4. Electron
simbo1905 profile image
Simon Massey • Edited on

Hereโ€™s a new one: GraalVM that lets you run Java, JavaScript, R and Python in the same cutting-edge runtime. It also compiles Java down to native code that runs in a raw container, starts in ms and consumes little heap. It also has a full node10 runtime that can run guest languages. Sounds too crazy to be true but it has had a huge number of Oracle research engineers working on it for years and the first production released was May 2019.

jrop profile image
Jonathan Apodaca

VSCode, TypeScript, and Rust. Each one of these showcases such a high quality of design.

memeree profile image

I think Gatsby js; netlify and zeit are an amazing combo.

steelwolf180 profile image
Max Ong Zong Bao • Edited on

JAM stack technology which I'm still amazed on how you can built a website.

That is fast, uses API & markdown to build a duct tape website with little to affordable hosting.

fultonbrowne profile image
Fulton Browne

Intellij IDEA, it truly changed the way I develop.

jamesmh profile image
James Hickey

Laravel ๐Ÿ’ฏ

adegbengaagoro profile image
Agoro, Adegbenga. B

I will go with AdonisJS. This NodeJS framework basically facilitated my transition from PHP to JavaScript & Node development

djangotricks profile image
Aidas Bendoraitis

For me, usually anything done with Augmented Reality makes me "wow". I have some cool inspirational examples at .

gypsydave5 profile image
David Wickes

That's amazing ๐Ÿ˜