And Now for Something Completely Different...

Bob Calco 04.18.2018

This blog post is to announce an exciting new direction for our soon-to-be-released scripting engines and run times, including Apex Athena, Apex Muse and now Apex Zeus.

This change impacts our expected rollout of these technologies in the near-term, as we are now in the process of preparing them for a different kind of distrubution and licensing model than initially intended. These changes reflect our desire to offer these technologies in a way that we believe will be of longer-term greater value to you, our customers, while also taking into account perspectives offered by our beta test partners.

A New Vision for Legacy Modernization

In short, Athena, Muse and Zeus are now part of an initiative to support legacy application modernization through a strategy we call “Extensbility as a Platform” or XaaP. In the spirit of XaaS (“Anything as a Service”) each of these runtimes will support an out-of-process execution model that allows a developer to distribute discrete portions of an application’s functionality and business logic on a micro-services model that is cloud-neutral and containerization savvy.

A means to orchestrate pipelines of distributed functionality on a full-stack, highly scalable, fault-tolerant and event-driven model will be provided by Apex Eos.

Coming Soon: Apex Functor™

Our hosted version of this functionality will be called Apex Functor, a cloud-agnostic alternative to Amazon Lambda, Google Function and Azure Functions. Each of those services tightly couple your systems to their infrastructure, and if you are committed to their infrastructure, they’re great. But with Apex Eos and Apex Functor, you are free to BYOC - either “Be Your Own Cloud” or “Bring Your Own Cloud,” respectively.

More than that: You are free to define the event sources entirely around your enterprise semantics, not just glue a bunch of cloud provider-defined services together with ad hoc scripting. Between Athena, Muse and Zeus, you have a variety of languages and architectures from which to choose:

Apex Athena Languages

Athena is a runtime for imperative, statically typed languages that supports dialects of the following languages:

  • Object Pascal
  • Visual Basic
  • C# (our flavor is called C-Minor or Cm for short, and is a hybrid of C and C#)
  • JavaScript (ECMA 5)

Apex Muse Languages

Muse is a runtime supporting dynamic and functional languages, including:

  • Lua
  • JavaScript (ECMA 6/7)
  • Clojure(Script)

Apex Zeus Languages

Zeus will support all of the above languages, but targeting the WebAssembly standard. So it will enable you to code “natively” in the browser in your favorite language - no more “compiling to JavaScript” tooling nightmares!

Moreover our implementation of WASM will make your code first-class distributed computations, securely extending the user experience beyond the browser as just another “thing” in the Internet of Things (IoT). The implications of this are profound and we’ll be blogging about them soon!

In-Process vs. Out-of-process Scripting

One important implication of our new design is that these languages will support not just the traditional in-process embedded scripting model familiar to current paxCompiler, PascalScript or TMS Scripter customers, but also an out-of-process method suitable for legacy application modernization efforts. More about what this means, and how it will work on Eos and Functor, will be forthcoming shortly after our initial release in the coming days.

Motivation

This change is also motivated by our confirmation, after an extended beta trial period of Athena with previous paxCompiler customers, to deliver a different approach to existing component models by empowering our customers to consume these technologies in a more customizable way, including the decision on whether to use them In-Process or Out-of-Process and to support legacy application modernization.

This new direction also enables us to align these technologies with our broader vision for our Unify! stack, of which they are core components.

Our Commitment to Incremental Release

The good news is that you don’t have to wait for the Big Shebang - in the next week or so we will be releasing a completely free version of Athena for developers and hobbyists that will not be time-limited. Soon thereafter, versions of Muse and Eos and then Zeus will follow.

Certain features will be disabled in the free version, but easily unlocked by upgrading to commercial alternatives that we’ll be rolling out in phases. There will also be the option to purchase add-ons that will work with any edition of the engines, to extending the capabilities of even the free versions. Our revised licensing model will enable us to offer lower pricing for our customers while empowering them to only pay for what they need. We will be spelling this out more fully starting next week, with tutorials for installing, registering and using the free version of Apex Athena. The free version will provide both a way to load Athena in-process (in a more traditional use of embedded, synchronous scripting) and a standalone runtime for out-of-process scripting, with an API for communicating with it asynchronously.

About Licensing

With these changes in envisioned delivery we are also making some changes to our licensing strategy.

To put it as simply as possible:

  1. Every product and technology will have a free, “Developer” edition that is released first and incubated with the developer community for a period of time before we release commercial editions. Developer editions will always be free, and extendable with low-cost and open source, third-party add-ons.

  2. Every product and technology will have a Professional edition that allows developers to OEM them in their customer-facing solutions. Exact methods of embedding or including will vary case-by-case, but the idea is that the Agora portal will facilitate OEM license key management for Professional edition customers and offer alternatives like floating license vs. node-locked licensing. Of course, the Professional edition of each product will always be easy to extend with low-cost or open source add-ons as well.

  3. Every product and technology will be available on a Premium subscription basis, which also includes an SDK that allows developers to customize or extend them with their code. This subscription level will also have certain partner and affiliate benefits associated with them, as appropriate depending on the kind of product or technology it is.

We will soon get the ball rolling with an initial release of Agora and Athena in coming days, and Agora will keep you up to date as new free and commercial editions come online.

The Bottom Line

The most exciting aspect of the new vision for our language run times is the idea that you can use them to transform any monolithic or legacy application into a distributed, n-tier, robust system in an incremental fashion, leveraging tools, techniques and methods that embrace the current state-of-the-art in both devops and software delivery.

So, please return over the next several days. As soon as the Agora Portal is open for business you’ll be able to register and download your free Apex Athena product and beging to explore this new direction with us, for fun and mutual profit. :)