~ Desmos API Introduction ~

About a year ago my job at Mathalicious took a bit of an unexpected turn. Up to that point all of our lessons came packaged with what we called a “Teacher Presentation,” which was really just an embedded collection of PowerPoint slides.

That made a lot of sense back when we were a one-person company on a Wordpress site, because it was feasible for a single person to create and manage the slides. But then we started to grow, and part of that growth involved commissioning a shiny new web application. As we upgraded and overhauled every aspect of the user experience, it became increasingly clear that the Teacher Presentations just weren’t going to cut it anymore. We decided our new lesson pages should include interactive content.

As good ideas often do, this created a big problem. In our pre-Mathalicious professional lives, we’d all been math teachers. That’s a really great selling point for a math curriculum company, but it’s terrible if you’re trying to do front-end web development without hiring a full-time programmer. Because Matt and I had done a (very) little bit of (very) amateur coding in the past, we took the lead on figuring out which web technologies we could reasonably incorporate without breaking our necks on the learning curve.

Enter Desmos. If you’re reading this, then you probably already know how awesome their product is. What you may not know is that part of the product they offer is a Javascript API that allows you to create your very own custom Desmos experience for a blog or website or app. If you’ve used Mathalicious lessons, then you’ve probably seen examples all over our stuff.

I’m still not a professional programmer. Well, technically I am, but only because my paycheck isn’t itemized. I still have a lot to learn about how the web works. I don’t mean for any of this to be the authoritative word on coding in general or the Desmos API in particular. But I’ve spent the better part of a year building things, talking with the creators, submitting feature requests and bug reports, and poring over the documentation. It certainly hadn’t made me an expert, but it’s put me in a position to help you learn the ropes if that’s something you’d like to do, even if you have zero programming experience. And if you have >0 programming experience, here’s your chance to learn about a fantastic new tool.

In many ways, I’m writing this to a slightly younger version of myself. That’s good news for you as a reader, because there’s no one I empathize with quite like me.

Happy graphing!