Software ecosystems: XXIIVV

4 min

I’m fascinated every time I discover an ecosystem of apps and tools that is similar with what I’m trying to build with my Trinkets project.
I feel excited like I’ve encountered an ancient civilization from another dimension, hidden for 1 million years.

It took me a week to study most of the interesting repositories when I could find some spare time.
At first I was totally overwhelmed by the number of weird names (eg: Arvelie, Heol, Indental, Tablatal, Neralie, Oscean, Horaire) and I thought “Maybe it’s in Finnish, or maybe Volapük”. Now I think it’s in Lietal - an experimental synthetic language - I might be wrong.
I also thought it’s related to Urbit, because the names of their projects (Azimuth, Arvo, Hoon, etc), but they’re actually not related.

All the tools below are documented on

  • Nataniev is a collection of free and open-source software following a singular design philosophy, and aesthetic
  • Oscean is a fully static publishing platform created to work in the P2P space
  • Horaire is a time-tracking tool
  • Hundred Rabbits interesting tools, games, blog posts and knowledge sharing.

Everything was designed to be simple, without external libraries, easy to debug and repair.
Also, I believe they were built because the creators are digital nomads that have intermitent access to internet; they were created in isolation and must work offline.
Which is absolutely amazing!

There are other ecosystems that I was also made me enthusiastic in the past, a few come to mind:

  • IPFS and the whole system around it;
  • Urbit decentralized operating system;
  • Choo.js small browser tools written in Javascript;
  • hyperCore and the whole stack build on top of that: hypertrie, hyperdb, hyperdrive, etc.
  • remoteStorage and “storage on the Web” ecosystem.

… But XXIIVV is a little closer to what I want to build.

I’m not entirely sure why it’s so fascinating, but I have a few ideas:

  • it’s an incredibly diverse set of utilities (tools for date and time, for storing and parsing data, a flow-based event emitter, tools for blogs, for decentralized chat; a text editor, drawing tools, music composition, a programming language and mobile games!)
  • the code is usually very simple (the Neralie code is only 15 lines)
  • I just love the community that was build around it
  • almost everything is free, open source and with a permissive software license
  • I feel inspired and motivated and I’m thinking of ways to contribute, and intersect some my work with that ecosystem
  • all the projects seem so familiar that I think if my life would have turned a different way 10 years ago, I might have reached similar conclusions that could have made me build the same kind of tools.

Follow the creators on Twitter: Devine and Rekka and on Github: Devine and Rekka.

I’m writing this post mostly for myself, but also in the hope that this info might be useful for somebody interested in similar stuff.

*** Extra lessons learned for me:

If I’m publishing any open-source software and the license is permisive, it is assumed I’m publishing it for other people to use.
So if I care about the users, it’s my duty to try and explain to the best of my abilities what that piece of software is doing.
It’s not an easy task, but I have to do the work, if I want the users to have a smooth experience.

This doesn’t apply if the software is private, or the license is very restrictive, because no-one else will ever use it anyway.

So how can I know what to add in the README of the software?

The first thing that comes into mind is to answer “The 5 W”: who, what, where, when, why.
Not all of them will be relevant for all the projects, but it’s a good starting point…

For the “What” question, I think at least the “What problem is this trying to solve?” should be answered.
Also the “What other similar software is out there?” is pretty useful, for people to position this one in a familiar context.

Inspiration from other places:

@articles #ecosystems