Aven: What? Why?
My mission is to empower the world to build great apps and websites. Today we launch Aven Cloud, the first big step on that journey.
If we can lower the barrier of building software, we can inspire more people to build great things. To lower the barrier, we need to provide new developers with a complete solution for building apps- even if it's not perfect.
In the world of software development, React has changed the game. As an overwhelmingly-popular web library, it allowed a massive community to flourish, with a broad set of published components and accompanying tools.
But the mobile app-store platforms have taken the world by storm, and the lurking champion here is React Native. It is the strongest community-led framework that allows developers to simultaneously build for the web, Android, and iOS.
Yet, React Native is known to be a highly incomplete solution. Every app still needs a solution for navigation. Every app needs to connect the React views to a source of data.
We need a framework that embraces cross-platform React and attempts to provide the rest of the framework. It won't be perfect, and it won't be complete, but it will allow us to address the full complexity that modern app developers are faced with.
Aven : A Full-Stack App Framework
Encompassing several projects, Aven is a framework for building apps on every platform, starting with Web+iOS+Android. It is built upon React Native and React Native Web to provide the envronments and view/styling layer.
The framework needs a navigation system that works on React Native and the web. As far as I know, that leaves React Navigation. (Of course I am biased, as one of the original authors of the project.)
For the data handling and DB syncronization problem, of course we will go with the modular and widely-adopted community solution- wait... Actually, the React community has struggled for years to reach consensus on a data handling solution. Redux has been very popular, MobX still is. Nowadays GraphQL solutions like Apollo have gained in popularity. None of the solutions actually seem to help with the core problem of syncronizing state to a remote database.
Many beginners would be smart to start out on Firebase or AWS AppSync. It allows them to get started in a matter of minutes, without writing a complicated GraphQL backend. But as a long-term solution, proprietary and expensive services from Google and Amazon are untenable.
I wanted a data handling framework that was modular, flexible, and would allow easy re-use of logic from client to server. But I couldn't find what I was looking for, so I embarked on a sub-project for the Aven framework.
Aven Cloud : A Full-Stack Database Framework
Aven Cloud is a set of loosly-coupled modules that enable you to save data to an arbitrary database, and observe changes to the data. It includes a user-friendly client that allows your app to automatically observe the values in the database. The client supports authentication and offline writes, to ease the complexity for offline-friendly apps.
Stay tuned to this blog for more detailed content on Aven Cloud in the coming weeks.
This project was inspired in part by talks like "Turning the Database Inside Out" by Martin Kleppmann, and "The Mess We're In" by Joe Armstrong. It was also inspired in part by projects at Facebook such as TAO and the reactive programming language, "Skip".
Hopefully this explains why today's launch of Aven Cloud is so meaningful to me. To get more people building great apps, we need a simple and complete framework- that's Aven. Today we sketch out a big missing chunk of that framework, to store, syncronize, and calculate your app's data- that's Aven Cloud.
Eric Vicenti