Unison Cloud

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  • unison

    A friendly programming language from the future

  • Short version: no type classes (yet)

    Longer version:

    Building upon what Quekid5 mentioned, Unison abilities are an implementation of what is referred to as algebraic effects in programming language literature. They represent capabilities like IO, state, exceptions, etc. They aren't really a replacement for type classes, though in some cases you can shoehorn abilities in where you might otherwise use a type class.

    For someone coming from a Haskell background, I think that abilities are closer to a replacement for monad transformers. But in my opinion they are much more ergonomic.

    Discusson of type classes comes up a lot. Here is a long-standing GitHub issue: https://github.com/unisonweb/unison/issues/502

    For what it's worth, I've written Unison quite a lot over the past few years and while I've missed type classes at times, I think that reading unfamiliar code is easier without them. There's no implicit magic; you can see exactly what is being passed into a function. So far I've been happy with a bit more verbosity for the sake of readability.

  • todomvc

    Helping you select an MV* framework - Todo apps for React.js, Ember.js, Angular, and many more

  • The odd thing is unison started purely as a language. Now there's a platform.

    I often find the best way to understand complex things is to dig all the way back to when they were being thought up. In this case there's a blog post from 2017 that I still find useful when thinking about Unison:


    Key quote:

    Composability is destroyed at program boundaries, therefore extend these boundaries outward, until all the computational resources of civilization are joined in a single planetary-scale computer

    (With the open sourcing of the language I doubt it will be one computer anymore, but it's an interesting window into the original idea)

    Personally I find there's a lot to this. It's interesting that we're really, really good at composing code within a program. I can map, filter, loop and do whatever I want to nested data structures with complete type safety to my heart's content. My editor's autocompleting, docs are showing up on hover, it's easy to test, all's well.

    But as soon as I want cron involved, and maybe a little state-- this is all wrecked. Also deployment gets more annoying as they talk about a lot.

    So I think Unison always had to have a platform to support bringing this stuff into the language, even though they built the language first.

    I'd love to hear some opinions from outside Unison about how they like using this language, tooling and hosting.

    I'd like to hear this too.

    Also, it would be great if there was something like https://eugenkiss.github.io/7guis/ or https://todomvc.com/ for platforms that we could use to compare Unison, AWS, etc etc. Or is there already a 7GUIs for platforms that I don't know about?

  • InfluxDB

    Power Real-Time Data Analytics at Scale. Get real-time insights from all types of time series data with InfluxDB. Ingest, query, and analyze billions of data points in real-time with unbounded cardinality.

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  • deno

    A modern runtime for JavaScript and TypeScript.

  • So as an end user it's kind of like https://deno.com/ where you buy into a runtime + comes prepacked with DBs (k/v stores), scheduling, and deploy stuff?

    > by storing Unison code in a database, keyed by the hash of that code, we gain a perfect incremental compilation cache which is shared among all developers of a project. This is an absolutely WILD feature, but it's fantastic and hard to go back once you've experienced it. I am basically never waiting around for my code to compile - once code has been parsed and typechecked once, by anyone, it's not touched again until it's changed.

    Interesting. Whats it like upgrading and managing dependencies in that code? I'd assume it gets more complex when it's not just the Union system but 3rd party plugins (stuff interacting with the OS or other libs).

  • unison-nix

    Nix support for the Unison programming language

  • I use both Unison and Nix (and I work on Unison Cloud).

    The "oh-so-good" aspect that comes from content-addressed dependencies is definitely there. I've spent a lot of time debugging runtime issues on the JVM because two libraries that I depend on disagree on what version of a common dependency should be on my classpath. This is not something you ever experience with Unison. In the runtime every term and type are identified by their hashes, so there's no (realistic) way that names can collide.

    Otherwise, Unison and Nix feel pretty different to me. Nix is generally a build-time language for arbitrary runtimes, while Unison is a general purpose language for a specific runtime.

    Nix takes on the really ambitious goal of wrangling ancient projects built with Makefiles and ambient environments into deterministic builds. Through the heroic effort of derivation authors, they've managed to make it work. But it requires those maintainers to do lots of careful manual tracking of dependencies, pre-build source patches, overriding build steps, etc.

    Unison takes a much more constrained approach: if we start with a language that is content-addressed at its core and keep running with this idea, where do we end up? One nice outcome of this is that you never need to manually track dependency versions, hashes, etc; the language does that for you.

    The "tough" part is also there, but feels different. To me the Nix expression language is straightforward, but I find it difficult to wrap my head around nontrivial derivations. To answer questions like "what attributes and build steps can/should I override" I feel like I have to dig through the layers of the implementation. In Unison a powerful static type system and UIs (both local and Unison Share) that support clicking through to any term/type make it easier for me to digest code. The "tough" parts of Unison generally stem from the young ecosystem: fewer existing libraries, a codebase manager that is under active development and not nearly as stable as git, etc.

    If nothing else Unison is worth a try just because it is so different than most other languages/ecosystems.

    PS if you are interested in usin Nix to install the Unison codebase manager or to package a program written in Unison these repos might be useful (disclaimer I'm ceedubs):


  • unison-nix-snake

    Example of building a Unison program via Nix

  • https://github.com/ceedubs/unison-nix-snake/

  • containerized-unison-program

    Containerize your Unison program!

  • Since this announcement is about Unison Cloud, it might not be clear for people who aren't familiar with the Unison language that you can run Unison programs without Unison Cloud. So much like just about any other language you can put a Unison program in a Docker container, deploy it via AWS Lambda, etc. Unison Cloud is kind of an "easy mode" for scalable and distributed deployment with support for typed durable storage, the option to expose public HTTP/websocket endpoints, etc.

    Here is an example of containerizing a Unison program: https://github.com/ceedubs/containerized-unison-program

    And here is a library that makes it easy to create an AWS Lambda out of a Unison function: https://share.unison-lang.org/@gfinol/lambda-runtime

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