What powers the sites you use every day? What language was it programmed in? What fonts does it use? How does it track people who visit? Those details usually take some digging to uncover–but a new browser extension for Chrome called WhatRuns instantly surfaces the tools and programs that power any website on the internet.
For instance, now it only takes a click to find out that Twitter was programmed in Python and PHP. The New York Times uses a host of fonts including a custom version of Cheltenham. Unsurprisingly, YouTube uses many of Google’s tools, like its font API and open-source Google Web Toolkit.
The extension was created by the entrepreneur Jijo Sunny. It initially used pattern recognition to detect the top 50 ad networks, and expanded to recognizing frameworks and scripts and finally to every component that runs behind the scenes of a website, from widgets and analytics to fonts. While it’s not comprehensive, the founders write on their blog that they’re focusing on the most popular tools right now–and they plan to expand to older technologies in the future.
For designers building out websites, WhatRuns could be an incredibly useful tool to determine what other sites use. For those just looking for new ways of accomplishing back-end tasks, it’s a gold mine of inspiration. And when you find a site you like, you can subscribe so that you can stay updated with the technology it’s using.