Omniref Adds JavaScript To Its Code Annotation Platform


YC-backed Omniref gave its code annotation and reference platform a big boost this week with the addition of support for JavaScript, the popular programming language used to make interactive browser-based apps and backend server code using Node.js.

That’s just the second language to hit the platform. According to Omniref co-founder Tim Robertson, the startup has spent the last several weeks indexing the entirety (well, 97 percent) of npm, the most popular JavaScript package manager. All told, they’ve pulled in more than 600,000 versions of packages available — meaning if you code with JavaScript using basically any popular framework, it’s on Omniref to look through or ask questions about.

The huge number of developers using JavaScript should bolster Omniref’s sign-ups, which currently hover at around 7,000. Even with a community that size, Robertson says most questions are answered within a minute or two on the site, with the exception of “more obscure stuff, like questions about older versions of code that most people don’t use any more.” In those cases, Robertson says the team will try to reach out to people they know will have the answer, but that’s becoming increasingly rare.

Beyond expanding the body of code that developers can reference on the site, the team has been working on low-hanging fruit across its platform that it knew it had to deal with when we first spoke in December.

All of the social profile features Robertson and I discussed last month — showing things like contributions people have made, the projects they follow and maintain on GitHub — have been added since we last spoke. Omniref has also added a user leaderboard as a way to “give people credit for contributing to the community,” though Robertson notes the team isn’t sure if that’s the best way to do it and is exploring other options for promoting its most helpful users.

The Omniref team is looking at other avenues to get code onto their platform beyond simply indexing every version of packages for specific languages. One option they’re exploring is providing extensions for developers who’ve already built documentation sites for their own code. Initially, those extensions will let them organize the documentation using Omniref’s nifty cross-referencing features. Later on, those same extensions will let developers use the startup’s Genius-like annotation features on their own code bases.