There’s been a tremendous amount of focus on teaching the world to code in the last couple of years, but Eve—out in public for the first time this week—takes a different approach. Rather than turning us all into computer programmers, it wants to change what programming is and create “a better way for us to interact with computers.”

In short, it means simplicity and accessibility. “Over the years, programming has become intrinsically tied to the notion of creating programs,” co-founder Chris Granger wrote on his blog post announcement, “but realistically what most people are trying to do is get the computer to do some thinking for them and then communicate the results.” 

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Version 0 of Eve is the first milestone along that road. The official website describes the project: 

On the surface, Eve is an environment a little like Excel that allows you to ‘program’ simply by moving columns and rows around in tables. Under the covers it’s a powerful database, a temporal logic language, and a flexible IDE [Integrated Development Environment] that allows you to build anything from a simple website to complex algorithms.

Think dragging and dropping rather than typing into a text editor, and being able to describe exactly what you want from a computer rather than translating it into an intermediate language first. 

“Version 0” is admittedly far from a polished release, Granger acknowledges on his blog. But the project has evolved enough now that it can convey Eve’s mission—and let developers, tinkerers and anyone else experiment with the project, with or without coding chops. 

Eve of Creation 

In some ways, Eve is treading a similar path as IFTTT (also known as “If This Then That”). The tool makes it easy for everyday users to connect services and create automations, which had been the work of developers. Now anyone can do it using IFTTT’s simple graphical interface. (At least for those services that support it.) 

Eve’s premise runs deeper, letting people create some of the features and services they need. In the words of the project’s manifesto, the aim is to create “a world where programmers [can] focus on solving the hard problems without being weighed down by the plumbing.” 

The ethos makes sense, considering it comes from the same team behind Light Table, an IDE focused on shortening the feedback loop between man and machine. 

The group’s work on Light Table informed Eve, which goes several steps further: It’s a relational database, a new programming language, an IDE, and a UI (user interface) editor all rolled into one. Eve received $2.3m in funding from several high-profile investors late last year, and the resources likely went into fleshing out the project’s development: 

We took a very academic approach and started back at the drawing board to design Eve from the ground up. Our working bibliography is rather extensive and covers everything from language design and query optimization to high-dimensional geometry and cognitive science. 

Developers and interested parties are encouraged to dive in and see what Eve is all about. You can find more about its nuts and bolts in the developer diary, which goes into much more detail. 

Starting From Zero, And Building Up

Eve version 0

Picking up in the ins and outs of the language should be as simple as working through an Excel tutorial, and apps built with Eve can be shared via a Web link. But ultimately, it won’t just remain a beginner tool: Advanced coders will be able to extend Eve’s capabilities with JavaScript on their own. 

Version 0 offers a database, compiler, query runtime, data editor, and query editor—in other words it’s essentially a database with an IDE attached. As an early version, it was built more for experimentation, not for the creation of serious projects. But that should change before long. 

Further down the line there are plans for APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) that can connect Eve-enabled works to everything from Twitter to Amazon Web Services. 

Granger knows that, as exciting as Eve’s potential could be, there’s still a lot of work to do. “It’s still in its infancy with lots missing and assuredly more than a few bugs,” he wrote, “but it’s reached a point where we can start to demonstrate the vision we have ahead of us.” 

Images courtesy of Shutterstock and Eve