Visual algorithms. And more.

Numerry is the name of my new side project, where I spend my spare time. The idea is visual algorithms: drawing them on the screen then executing them.

This comes out of the frustration I have when I want to plot a simple curve and have to figure my way out of a spreadsheet, to produce something that I can hardly put into a presentation, share through email or social networks. From the bottom of my heart, and with all the respect I have for the developers behind them, I hate spreadsheets. I won’t extend too much on this subject, just note that I’ll do all I can to avoid them.

I still have in mind this wonderful program called plotdrop, where you’d drop a file consisting of two columns and it would plot it for you: I have data, all I want is to see it. There are tons of ways to plot data, available freely; python and matplotlib are probably coming to your mind. Yet I find the workflow too tedious. How do I share it by the way? Export the plot to a file, then what? What about the code I wrote to generate it?

With numerry, I’ll finally be able to draw the function I want, to see it, plot it, to share it with a link, to embed it where I want, to allow friends and colleagues to contribute, painlessly.

Yet, the road is long. And steep. It’s a huge task. And you know what? That’s exactly what I was looking for in a side project. Something with enough depth and potential to keep the mojo in the evening after a long day at work. To tell friends I prefer to skip this time, I’m working on numerry. To justify reading a computer science book in the evening, before going to sleep, if I can put it down.

Clearly, alone on my spare time, I’m not going to go fast, it’s going to take some time. And that’s perfectly fine. Because numerry is about the journey, not the destination.

Numerry is the excuse to try out new stuff, communicate about it, read, watch, listen and talk about the challenges I face. Why am I so into graphs nowadays? Numerry. Why do I want to write a database? Numerry. Why do I go more often to museums, dive more into design? Numerry. Why do I start caring about scaling a website? Numerry.

What I found, is that by putting a name on it, by registering it as an organisation on GitHub, Trello, Slack and Google Apps for Work, it becomes alive, an entity. Not the next pet project that I would drop after one month once I understand the core of the problem. As any living organism, it needs food, which is the code I’m going to pour on GitHub.

I am still surprised by how clear things are since I gave it a name and made it alive. A fog that crystallised. Always there to provide cohesion to what I do. You probably have another word for it. Mine is numerry. For this matter, numerry is more a way of life than a project. I know I get a bit far, but that’s how I feel it now.