As with any new technology, we know it can be a bit intimidating to get started. For one thing, running code on the edge is a paradigm shift—forcing us to rethink classic web architecture problems, or removing them altogether. For another, since you can build just about anything, it can be challenging to figure out what to build first.
Today we’re launching Built with Workers, a new site designed to help get those creative juices flowing and unblock you, by answering that simple but important question: What can I build with Cloudflare Workers?
Some time in 1999, at age 11, I received my first graphing calculator. It was a TI-82 that my older sister no longer needed. It was on this very calculator that I learned to write code. Looking back, I’m not sure how exactly I had the patience or sanity to figure it all out.
It was a mess. Among the many difficulties were that I had to type the code out on the calculator’s non-QWERTY keyboard, the language I was writing in didn’t have functions, and oh yeah, the text editor would frequently bug out and I’d inexplicably lose half or all of my code.
But what was perhaps more challenging than all of that, was that I had absolutely zero code examples to draw inspiration from.
I remember when I stumbled on a design pattern to handle input. It was quite the eureka moment. With only labels and gotos, I would have to check if each key was pressed and then loop back around to do it all over again. Little did I know I’d be programming games just about the same way today using
Though I was able to make a few simple programs hunting around like this, I quickly hit my limits and stopped writing them.
A couple of years later, a friend of mine, with his fancy-pantsed TI-83 Silver Edition calculator with 4× the RAM of mine—I was a bit jealous—showed me a program that came with his fancy new calculator.
It was called Phoenix. If you ever played any graphing calculator games, it was probably this one. It was fast and action packed, flying a spaceship around shooting enemies. It was beautiful.
Seeing this game totally changed my perspective on the platform. I went on to create a couple of games involving similar mechanics and a similar animation style, all because I’d seen this game on a friend’s calculator.
It opened up my eyes to what was possible, gave me the confidence to try things I previously thought were impossible, and brought out the detective inside me to want to figure out how they were able to build each piece of functionality.
A few other friends of mine started writing programs too. We would trade our programs in the back of math class together using a cable to attach the two calculators together.
Importantly, when you’d receive a program from another friend’s calculator, you could run it and you could view and manipulate the source code. This allowed us to collaborate on games, by passing them back and forth.
Our apps and games became more complex and interesting. Non-coder friends of ours were becoming interested in our projects too, and we started sharing games at lunch. We would get great feedback from them, leading us to fix bugs, build more stylish graphics and intro sequences, and streamline the player experience.
I’m sure our teachers loved us...
A few years later, I got the Internet.
What made the Internet so exciting to me was that by design, the source code of any website was just sitting right there, one keyboard command away. Just like the calculators.
So I did what many of us did back then—and still do today: if I saw something cool, I stole it. Oh nice hover animation: I’ll take that thank you very much. Cool button design: yup, that’s mine now.
Back then we called them websites not apps, and ourselves web designers not frontend engineers, but in all of the time since then, the web platform hasn’t really changed.
Although the web today is more complex, often with many more layers of abstraction, it’s still the case that if you can see something in your browser, most likely you can quickly access, study, copy, manipulate, borrow and steal the source code that created it in just a few seconds.
This is why I’m personally so excited to bring Built with Workers to the community, and to learn from the projects on it myself.
Every project page has a section in which the creators get to describe how their project uses Cloudflare Workers. Many projects use Workers KV, our distributed key-value store, and Workers Sites, our edge-based static site hosting, and some projects are entirely written, built, tested, and deployed with Cloudflare Workers.
Even better than that, many projects on Built with Workers are open-source, featuring a direct link to the Github repo, allowing you to quickly get at the source. The Built with Workers site itself is one of these open-source projects on the Built with Workers site.
We hope that the projects on Built with Workers will help inspire you to build your next project, by seeing just what’s possible.
It’s been thrilling to see the incredible projects people are building. If you’ve got a project you’d like to share, please fill out this form.