Brendan Dawes
The Art of Form and Code

Making in the browser: using a web browser to make physical things

A few years ago Andy Clarke did a presentation called Walls Come Tumbling Down where he talked about the idea of designing in the browser - actually building a web site design directly in the browser rather than making flat files in Photoshop which you then recreate in HTML and CSS. This was very much, in my eyes, about the web browser being part of your design toolkit, rather than simply where your design is deployed.

I'm constantly amazed at just what the seemingly humble browser can do these days, and as someone who loves to make things—be that digital things or physical things—having a browser be this ever changing tool that can morph from one thing to another is very powerful; like a swiss-army knife for makers that is always with you.

It's not just about tools for making digital things either; I'm now seeing more web based tool for making physical things. Want to program your Arduino using visual building blocks, in your browser? No problem. Need to make a 3D model quickly and simply in your browser? There's a tool for that. So here's my little list of just some of the tools I've come across to help you make physical things in your browser. I'm sure there's loads more—let me know in the comments.

Creating templates for notched laser-cut boxes

This is so cool. It exists as a Java program but is now also online. Just punch in some numbers and boom! Download a PDF of a perfect box template ready to be laser-cut.


Design 3D models online

Kind of like Sketch Up but in your browser. Design a model in your browser, share it online and then download the STL file to print it out.


Drag-n-Drop Microprocessor controlling

This is pretty amazing. Program microcontroller like Arduino in your browser using visual building blocks.


A handy PDF for lo-fi making / hacking

One of my fave PDFs ever - loads of information on how to hack cheap toys to make other things. Not really a tool as such, but just had to post it!


Generative 3D model generation

Create generative shapes and then download the STL file for printing!


Resistor Color Code Calculator

Very geeky but very handy, calculate resistor values.