Elvish Newsletter, July 2017 Issue

Welcome to the first issue of Elvish Newsletter!

Elvish is a shell that seeks to combine a full-fledged programming language with a friendly user interface. This newsletter is a summary of its progress and future plans.

Status Updates

  • 18 pull requests to the main repo have been merged in the past four weeks. Among them 13 were made by @xofyargs, and the rest by @myfreeweb, @jiujieti, @HeavyHorst, @silvasur and @ALSchwalm. The website repo has also merged 3 pull requests from @bengesoff, @zhsj and @silvasur. Many kudos!

  • The website was officially live on 3 July. Although the initial submission to HN was a failure, Elvish gained quite some popularity on Reddit, and another HN submission made to the homepage. These, among others, have brought 40k unique visitors to the website, totalling 340k HTTP requests. Thank you Internet :)

  • A lot of discussions have happened over the IM channels and the issue tracker, and it has become necessary to better document the current status of Elvish and organize the development effort, and this newsletter is part of the response.

    There is no fixed schedule yet, but the current plan is to publish newsletters roughly every month. Preview releases of Elvish, which used to happen quite arbitrarily, will also be done to coincide with the publication of newsletters.

  • There are now IM channels for developers, see below for details.

Short-Term and Mid-Term Plans

The next preview release will be 0.10, and there is now a milestone for it, a list of issues considered vital for the release. If you would like to contribute, you are more than welcome to pick an issue from that list, although you are also more than welcome to pick just any issue.

Aside from the short-term goal of releasing 0.10, here are the current mid-term focus areas of Elvish development:

  • Stabilizing the language core.

    The core of Elvish is still pretty immature, and it is definitely not as usable as any other dynamic language, say Python or Clojure. Among others, the 0.10 milestone now plans changes to the implementation of maps (#414), a new semantics of element assignment (#422) and enhanced syntax for function definition (#82 and #397). You probably wouldn’t expect such fundamental changes in a mature language :)

    A stable language core is a prerequisite for a 1.0 release. Elvish 1.x will maintain backwards compatibility with code written for earlier 1.x versions.

  • Enhance usability of the user interface, and provide basic programmability.

    The goal is to build a fully programmable user interface, and there are a lot to be done. Among others, the 0.10 milestone plans to support manipulating the cursor (#415) programmatically, scrolling of previews in navigation mode previews (#381), and invoking external editors for editing code (#393).

    The user interface is important for two reasons. Enhancements to the UI can improve the power of Elvish directly and significantly; its API is also a very good place for testing the language. By developing the language and the user interface in parallel, we can make sure that they work well together.

Like many other open source projects, you are welcome to discuss and challenge the current plan, or come up with your ideas regarding the design and implementation.

(So what’s the long-term goal of Elvish? The long-term goal is to remove the “seeks to” part from the introduction of Elvish at the beginning of the post.)

Development IM Channels

To better coordinate development, there are now IM channels for Elvish development: #elvish-dev on freenode, elves/elvish-dev on Gitter and @elvish_dev on Telegram. These channels are all connected together thanks to fishroom.

For general questions, you are welcome in #elvish on Freenode, elves/elvish-public on Gitter, or @elvish on Telegram.


This concludes this first issue of the newsletter. Hopefully future issues of this newsletter will also feature blog posts from Elvish users like Elvish for Python Users and popular Elvish modules like Tetris in Your Shell :)

Have Fun with Elvish!

- xiaq