Complex 3D tissues arise during development following tightly organized events in space and time. In particular, gene regulatory networks and local interactions between single cells lead to emergent properties at the tissue and organism levels. To understand the design principles of tissue organization, we need to characterize individual cells at given times, but we also need to consider the collective behavior of multiple cells across different spatial and temporal scales. In recent years, powerful single cell methods have been developed to characterize cells in tissues and to address the challenging questions of how different tissues are formed throughout development, maintained in homeostasis, and repaired after injury and disease. These approaches have led to a massive increase in data pertaining to both mRNA and protein abundances in single cells. As we review here, these new technologies, in combination with in toto live imaging, now allow us to bridge spatial and temporal information quantitatively at the single cell level and generate a mechanistic understanding of tissue development.