30 Jan 2018

I’ve been keeping my eye on the Eve project and company, both lead by Chris Granger, for a while now, and so I was a little sad to see the announcement that it was shutting the doors.

The aim of Eve was “make programming accessible to everyone”. This is an aim that is close to my own heart, and was the area in which I did my PhD. It revolves around the idea that programming can be a useful tool for a wide variety of people, instead of being the specialist domain of a select priesthood. However, as I wrote a while ago, the vast majority of current approaches throw up needless barriers to casual use, and the systems that are suitable for such use are limited in their scope.

Eve was an ambitious attempt to address this by reconceiving programming from the ground up, rather than modifying or extending an existing environment. The component pieces — logic programming, interactive computation, integrating code and data — weren’t new, but they were combined in a considered and consistent way that showed great promise.

Ultimately, though, the people behind Eve “couldn’t find a home” for the project. They have open sourced the runtime, but I suspect that the project’s more lasting contribution will be the ideas on which it was based. More than the specifics, it acted as a challenge to our assumptions about what programming environments are, and how we approach them. Eve may be winding down, but the questions it raises remain, and we should carry on asking them.

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