March 12, 2018

Red Foundation news

We set up the Red Foundation structure at the beginning of January in Paris, France. The Red Foundation is kindly hosted by the EPHE, at the Human and Artificial Cognition research unit led by Fran├žois Jouen (author of the famous RedCV framework, among other image-processing related projects for Red).

For a brief overview, the Red Foundation structure is composed of several teams:
  • an administrative team: 
    • Nenad Rakocevic, President
    • Francois Jouen, Vice-President
    • Azouz Guizani, Treasurer
  • an operational team, led by Gregg Irwin, and composed of regular members. Peter W A Wood is the first member, and will be followed by more in the future.
  • honorary members, who act as advisors.

The role of the Foundation, as explained in the announcement article and in the RED whitepaper, is to manage the whole Red open source project, and set up a new economic model for open source projects using the RED token. In order to achieve that, all copyright holders in the Red codebase on Github will be asked to transfer their rights to the Foundation. As Nenad is the copyright owner of the biggest part of the source code, he will be the first one to do so (resulting in changing the copyright in the source files headers and license files).

The tasks the operational team is also working on currently, are:
  • a website for the Foundation, featuring:
    • a blog platform where regular reports will be made.
    • full information about the RED token (usages, reward rules and amounts).
    • contributing task bounties for the Red community (paid in RED tokens).
  • defining the rules for retro-distribution of RED tokens for past contributions (since the opening of the Red github repo in 2011). We will proceed with the distribution as soon as the rules and correct amount of reward tokens are decided. This needs the list of contributions and contributors to be gathered.
  • defining the decision processes in the operational team.
  • defining the rules for membership of the Foundation.
  • managing the re-design of the site and moving it to a new platform.

All those tasks and their results will be published on the Foundation website, for the sake of information and transparency.

In order to absorb all these new tasks and the extended roadmaps for the new branches of development in the Red programming stack, we are recruiting new collaborators (non-exhaustive list):
  • a Content and Marketing Manage
  • a Community manager (to help Gregg)
  • devops lead (for deployment and infrastructures management)
  • a low-level system programmer (to reinforce the core Red dev team)
  • an Android system programmer
  • a Win32 system programmer (for maintaining the Windows backend)
  • a Cocoa system programmer (for maintaining the macOS backend)
  • a GTK system programmer (for maintaining the Linux backend)
  • a QA engineer
  • a Security Expert (for addressing the AV vendors issues and other security aspects in the project)
  • a Tokenomics Expert (if such rare bird even exists ;-))

Some of those jobs are already being filled as you read those lines, whilst it might take longer to find right match for others. Most of those jobs will be handled by our supporting company, Fullstack Technology, on behalf of the Foundation. We will post the job descriptions asap.

In addition to that, the Red Foundation is searching for partners helping it fulfill his vision of simplified programming solutions for humans, especially in the blockchain industry. Discussions are undergoing already with some potential partners, like the NEO council, or Enuma, a leading blockchain services company in Hong Kong.

The Foundation will set up a monthly report on all its activities, published on his website (under construction).

March 11, 2018

Red, Rebol & Carl

Another goal of our trip in California was to visit Carl Sassenrath, creator of Rebol, and spiritual grandfather of Red, as Red is the offspring of the Rebol language.

We had a great time with Carl and his wife Cindy, discussing Red and Rebol syntax & semantics, the blockchain industry, smart contracts and the opportunities it presents for our technologies, while enjoying a good Italian restaurant and excellent red wine (selected by Carl, of course!). Carl was particularly interested in understanding more deeply how smart contracts work and how they are currently implemented using the Solidity language. We walked him through the complete source code of the RED token contract, commenting on pretty much every line of code in it and discussing the needs and possible improvements a DSL like Red/C3 could bring over the existing tools. It seems obvious that we could make a huge difference in that domain, given our human-centric approach to software building.

Another aspect that got Carl's attention, was the tokenomics we are setting up for our community of users, using the RED token. Carl read the whole whitepaper (he found it well-written), and was excited by how we could make the community grow, delegate more control over the projects to the community using the voting power, and increase the contributions by leveraging the token, as a reward model for useful contributions.

We were invited to stay at Carl's place, as the discussions lasted late into the night (many thanks to Carl & Cindy for their kind hospitality). At our morning breakfast, we were delighted to hear that Carl accepted our invitation to join the Red Foundation as an honorary member, which means that Carl will be watching our work both on Red and on the Red/C3 DSL, bringing his unique experience and advice on building languages and dialects. As we are still setting up the Red Foundation operations and teams, we will give more information about our collaboration with Carl in later reports from the Foundation. In addition to that, we asked Carl to kindly free the Rebol/SDK (which is something Carl was already considering, as it is not sold anymore), so that Red users could encap their own toolchain binaries if they want to, without having to purchase it. Carl announced on that it will soon be unlocked, and provided for free to all!

For the old timers from Red and Rebol community, yes, it means we are on a course to finally join forces and build the dream team we've all wished for over these many years! ;-)

Next article will cover the current state of the Red Foundation and the related on-going tasks.

March 10, 2018

Red in San Francisco

For those eager to get some fresh news from Red, here are some great news items that we are sure you will appreciate a lot. As there are many different topics to talk about, we are splitting the news over several articles that we will publish over several days. This is the first part.

Together with Gregg Irwin, the Red community leader, who joined us from Idaho, we had a memorable time in SF, and the trip was successful beyond our wildest expectations! The goal of the trip was to attend the GoBlockchainConnect conference, the first big conference connecting the Asian and North American blockchain industries. The conference was promoted as bringing together developers, blockchain companies, and investors. More than 1'000 people attended.

Such events are really good for getting the pulse of the crypto community first hand, learning about the state of art in this emerging industry, and connecting with key people, including projects like NEO, and companies like... Google (yes, you read it correctly...more info about that below). ;-)

One of the best sessions we saw was Riccardo Spagni, lead developer of Monero. He had good things to say, and presented himself well. We learned, very quickly, that there is a wide gap in the blockchain space between those who have real substance in product or knowledge, and those who don't.

We had a chance to pitch Red/C3 project to Charlie Lee, Litecoin's creator. He found it promising and asked if Litecoin's VM could be supported. As Litecoin is using an instruction set compatible with Bitcoin's Script, he was glad to hear that such support was already on our roadmap.

Red team and NEO team (Da HongFei and Johnson Zhao)

We also booked a meeting with NEO (a Chinese competitor of Ethereum, basically) at the conference. When we met NEO's team, including Da HongFei, founder of NEO, and Johnson Zhao, their Global Development Director, it went so well that they asked us to attend the NEO DevCon in SF two days later, and have Nenad on a panel about smart contract programming. That panel was a resounding success for Red. Where NEO plans to support C#, Python, JS, and more for blockchain programming, it was clear that DSLs are what everyone really wants for smart contracts.

Now, about the big "G" company. :-) We were lucky to meet a Google manager and engineer at the GoBlockchainConnect conference, and talked with them several times about Red and our plans for covering smart contracts and Dapp development. They just happened to be the two people in charge of the internal blockchain group at Google, and found Red intriguing enough to invite us for a full demo at Google's HQ in Mountain View! The demo went very well, they were astonished by what Red could do already, and how we leverage dialects (eDSLs) to reduce complexity, especially in the UI domain. It quickly turned into a brainstorming session about the possible applications of Red and /C3 in the blockchain industry, and disruptive potential to traditional markets. This resulted in a further invitation to present Red to a much larger internal group at Google, as soon as we have a working prototype for smart contract coding. Do we need to emphasize the potential of such interest by big G? ;-)

Photos taken at the entrance of Google's offices, taking shots inside is strictly forbidden.

In light of all the new potential in the Silicon Valley, we are planning to open an office in the Bay Area, as soon as possible, and recruit a team there.

Even with the ETH we raised, it's all we can afford in SV. ;-)

It was a long week, with long hours, but well worth it in the end. We learned that Red is in a very solid position, and because we're able to move quickly, our chances of success are good. We have a much longer history than other projects out there, though our blockchain strategy is a new aspect. We have real, solid technology that works today, and that's huge. Our community (growing up over 7 years) is also one of our great strengths, and putting things in motion to make use of RED tokens to thank and reward you is near the top of our priority list.

Next article will be published tomorrow, and will talk about our meeting with Carl. ;-)

January 16, 2018

RED Token Sale Success!

Dear RED supporters,

We did it!

I’d like to thank you, and the entire Red community, for supporting us throughout this token sale process. We know that you've waited patiently for new features and releases while we worked on it. We’re thrilled that so many of you are excited about using Red, the upcoming tools we'll build together, and using RED tokens in the community. Blockchain based "tokenomics" is a new and exciting world of possibilities that we can help create, together.

In the past month, since RED’s debut, there has been overwhelming interest in our token sale. We deeply appreciate that support, from all parts of the world.

We can now confidently embark on the next steps in Red's development, thanks to each and every one of you. The establishment of the Red Foundation and the development of Red/C3 are top priorities, but this doesn't mean all the other work stops. The success of the RED token sale means we can redouble our efforts, moving forward in greater strides, knowing we're on solid ground. Your support means more opportunities for the Red community to contribute and be properly acknowledged. Yes, we have a lot of work and planning to do, but we have a strong, clear vision and deep desire to see it through. The wheels are already in motion and I look forward to letting you know each time we complete a major milestone.

We are so grateful, more than we can say, to have such a supportive (and growing) community around us. On behalf of the entire RED team, I want to share our appreciation for you all, and I personally want to thank each of you for loving and believing in Red.

To Red's future, our future!

January 13, 2018

Registration Special Offer

Dear Red users and followers,

Thank you all for your genuine interest in Red, we greatly appreciate it.

We have received overwhelming requests and a very high number of documents for the registration.

It is the contributions from each and every one of you that makes Red great, and we thank you very much for your strong support. During that time, I was giving a speech at the FINWISE 2018 conference in Macau, as part of our road show for introducing Red to the blockchain community.

We set up strict rules for the acceptation process in order to secure it as best as possible. So we want to take the time to carefully review each provided document.

This is what we propose for those of you who submitted valid KYC verification information before UTC 7:30am, January 12th 2018, and could not participate to early bird round:

    1. We will send you a confirmation email informing you about your successful registration.

    2. You will then be whitelisted (all at once) and be able to buy the remaining RED tokens from the early birds supply, and at the upcoming open round.

   3. For those of you who could not participate to early bird round, but submitted the valid KYC before UTC 7:30am, January 12th 2018, and who will be buying during the open round, we will refund you 10% of the ETH amount you sent (you will be keeping all the RED tokens you will get), effectively giving you the same conversion ratio as during the early birds round.

We hope this is a satisfying solution and will make things right for those who could not participate yesterday.

The open round starts on UTC 8am January 16th. Get ready! ;-)

January 9, 2018

RED: here we go!

After long weeks of hard work, we are finally ready and happy to announce the opening of the token sales! We had to rename the token to RED (all caps), as an RCT token was deployed by another project a few days ago. Its purpose is still unchanged: powering the decentralized apps and Red community tokenomics!

This process will be held starting from January 8th to January 31st 2018, in three stages:
  Private Angel Investors       : Jan  8th - Jan 11th
  Early Bird round              : Jan 12th - Jan 15th
  Open round                    : Jan 16th - Jan 31th
The total fixed supply of RED tokens is 200,000,000. The allocations are:
  Private investors             : 10% (20,000,000) with a 3 months lockup period.
  ICO (earlybird + open rounds) : 30% (60,000,000)
  Red team                      : 15% (30,000,000) with a 12 months lockup period.
  Red Foundation                : 35% (70,000,000)
  Marketing/Strategic           : 10% (20,000,000)
Exchange ratios with Ethers (ETH) are set as:
  Private Investors             : 1 ETH => 3400 RED
  Early Birds                   : 1 ETH => 2750 RED
  Open round                    : 1 ETH => 2500 RED
Only Ethers are accepted, with a minimum of 1 ETH. Private angel investors also benefit from a 20% unlocking at the closing date of the token sales process.

In order to participate, you will need to go through an online registration process (KYC), and provide the required credentials. Citizens of countries that have banned or posed heavy regulations on such token sales are not allowed to participate.

For more information about the token sales:

This is the culminating point of many months of hard work and preparation. Many thanks to the teams and partners who have worked over the clock to make this happen. This is the dawn of new era for Red and its community of contributors, users and followers. Help us make it happen now!


January 3, 2018

Overview of Red development history

This video shows a fast-paced timelapse of the Red source code changes in the main repository over last 6 years, 9000 commits. You can see the avatars of all contributors, flashing commits on the files over time.

Here are a few stats showing the changes between Jan 1st 2017 and Dec 31th 2017:
  • Github stars: 1214 to 2970
  • Github programming languages ranking: #34 to #22
  • Page views on 1.06M to 1.65M
As you can see, 2017 has been a great year, with interest in Red growing for some stats, faster than in all the previous years put together!

Short history of Red

Given that many newcomers arrived in Red community in the last two years, some might be confused about past Red history and timeline, so I would like to write it down now, and add some comments in retrospect on some of the choices made in the past.

The Red project was officially launched in March 2011, with the first public announcement and the release of the version 0.1.0, which was developed in 3 months. That early version provided a fully working Red/System toolchain, with a compiler and linker, all in 60KB of source code. That was just for Red/System, the low-level DSL of Red.

The Red language had different goals at that time, it was meant to be a statically typed sub-set of Rebol, with static scopes and no dynamic binding. That Red would have been only compiled, so no interpreter, and would eventually had a REPL after 1.0, once a JIT was available. Given my old work on an experimental Rebol clone in C a few years ago (implemented in 9 months), I estimated that a 1.0 for such Red could be doable in a year. Such a version would only support Windows and x86 architecture, would have most, but not all of Rebol datatypes, no DSL, no GUI nor floating point support.

During 2011, a community of users and followers started forming around this early Red version, the daily interactions with the community had some influence on the goals I had initially set for Red, and at some point during that year, I realized that what I really wanted was a more dynamic language, closer to Rebol, rather than a crippled static version. I decided then to trace a new longer road to a different design for Red, more in line with my personal desires and community expectations.

The scope extended as we kept adding new features (sometimes initiated by contributors), like ARM support, floating point support and Parse dialect. We then replaced the early low-level lexer with a much more capable version using Parse. The community was pressuring for a more "production-ready" version, which meant adding more features, like extra datatypes, postponing the 1.0 milestone further away up to 2014.

I have been working full-time on the project since 2011, and invested all my personal money to fund it, helped by individual donations from community members. Frankly, without those extra donations, I wouldn't have made it. In late 2013, I was contacted by a China-based VC (Innovation Works) who was interested by Red project. They offered me the chance to join them in Beijing. I initially politely refused, as I thought that doing so would consume too much time and accepting investments never has a guaranteed outcome. But thinking more about it, I also considered that raising a seed round would allow some talents in the community to work full time on Red, speeding it up. So, I accepted the offer and relocated to Beijing in 2014, settling for a new life there.

Red in its command-line form was not good enough to attract any investor, nor make any good business plan. So I made a major decision to incorporate the GUI module in the roadmap as soon as possible. The original plan was to only add it after Red had reached version 1.0. I also thought that Android support would be a key element for Red's future, so I also move it forward too. It took me about 7 months to raise a seed round, and 4 more months to effectively get the money into the bank account of the newly formed company in mid-2015. Work on Red during that time went more slowly. It never stopped though as we could hire our first developers (using a loan) and the number of contributors from the community was increasing.

A new roadmap was set and a 1.0 was planned for 2016 focusing on Android GUI support. Though, the early prototype on Android showed that developing a cross-platform GUI engine starting with Android (as we wanted it asap) along with the VID DSL was not a good way to achieve it, as the development cycle with Android was too long, and debugging at low-level there was very limited and painful. It was way more convenient to do it on a desktop OS like Windows, which was also the platform of roughly half of our users. So we switched the GUI development to Windows first, as it would be much faster to design and polish the cross-platform parts there, then make an Android back-end for it after.

The GUI engine with the VID dialect and back-end for Windows was released in early 2016. We initially planned only a minimal support and just a few (5-6) widgets for the Windows back-end, but the community wanted more (and still does). At the same time, we were also working in parallel on a Red IDE engine based on Scintilla. We needed more widget support, so we spent extra months doubling the initial number of widgets and polishing the features of VID, Draw dialect and View engine. The Scintilla IDE prototype was not as promising as we expected, some limitations with Scintilla were disappointing to say the least. They included awkward Unicode support and UI limitations. A Red GUI based IDE was a better option, allowing us to support any feature we could think of. We ran out of resources for such a side-project, so we put it to sleep until we can fund it (hint hint, the ICO would help there a lot too!).

After the initial GUI release, before we went back to Android support, we had to do some promotion about Red and our new shiny GUI system, in order to increase our userbase  (growth is a constant concern for VC-backed startups). Though, the competition was rough, as the new state of the art (on the web) was reactive frameworks which were providing a more powerful and simpler way to operate GUIs. Such reactive GUI was also something I had on my wish-list since 2010 for Red, and it seemed like the right time to add it, so that's what we did and released it in mid-2016. That enabled the production of some pretty impressive demos I think, for a cross-platform native GUI system.

We went back to Android development after that, starting by adding a preprocessor to Red lexer, in order to move a lot of costly work done at runtime to resolve Java method signatures, to compile-time. This work consumed around a couple of months, especially as we also took that opportunity to add an experimental macro system. The preprocessor is currently used by the Red runtime to reduce code size, though, we late figured out a better way to handle the Java method signatures  without relying on the preprocessor. So, we could have saved some time there, even if it's always easier to come to such conclusion when looking back in time.

As we continued on Android support, we stumbled upon new unexpected issues. All the features added in the last releases significantly increased the runtime size, resulting in very long compilation times. Moreover, the GUI system and newest object features broke the ability for the Red compiler to produce functioning shared library files for Red programs (Red/System shared libraries were fine, it was a limitation of the Red runtime library and compiler). We then decided to launch the "libRed" branch, in order to solve all those issues by enabling the compilation of the Red runtime as a shared library in two different forms: one is libRedRT, used only for speeding up the compilation process, the other is libRed, which provides an external API for embedding Red into external software (which was on our todo-list anyway and in the Red initial goals). That work took more time than expected, roughly 7 months, as I had to travel across the globe many times (for personal reasons) going offline for a total of 2 months during that period, which made it harder to properly focus on some of the complex issues that needed solving. That is where we lost the most time in the last couple of years, although the macOS GUI branch was still advancing at the same time in parallel.

After macOS release earlier this year, we could finally continue the work on Android, and guess what, we could develop a GUI backend on par with Windows one in about a month and half only! All the preparation work done before was paying off in the end! Still, that is not enough for acceptable Android support, as mobile devices have many features which need first-class support, and we are working on them for 0.6.5 release (delayed by the ICO preparations and process). We will provide more info about Android support very soon.

Another important consequence of adding GUI support for macOS, was the need to have a GUI console there too (identical to the Windows one), as we have great plans for the GUI console itself. As a side-project, we started working on a new GUI console engine in early 2017, replacing the low-level OS-specific Red/System bindings with the Red/View engine, enabling cross-platform support out of the box, and adding some key features we needed on the Red roadmap, like rich-text support. Those features are available in our 0.6.4 branch, and will be part of the next release shortly after the ICO (though probably after Chinese New Year in february).

One thing I have greatly underestimated during all those years (especially at the beginning), was the amount of time that would be spent interacting with the community, as I tried to be as present as possible online to answer questions, welcome newcomers and help them get started. My public posts are just the tip of the iceberg, as many people just contacted me on direct channels (email, private messages on AltME, Gitter, skype, ...), and that consumed a lot of time too. But, I think it was a necessity anyway, just unaccounted for. Nowadays it is much easier for me, as we have community managers and many other members who are doing a great job handling newcomers, wave after wave. Another thing I didn't consider at the beginning was also how much impact and influence the community would have on the features that we would put into Red (especially pre-1.0). As old-timers from Rebol community were used to have a great amount of feature available out of the box, they expected Red to be on par with that, often without much concern about the costs involved in supporting the desired features. I think I should have said "no" more often than I did, or just postponing them after 1.0.

All in all, despite the bumpy road sometimes, the current version of Red is better in many ways than what I hoped for in 2011. We still have the option to rename the 0.7.0 or 0.7.1 upcoming milestones to a 1.0 candidate, as they would have all the features we initially planned for a 1.0, though there are pros and cons about pushing the other planned features post-1.0, but I understand that Red users nowadays are more interested in reaching a 1.0, than having a more feature-complete one. We can discuss about that on our Gitter channels.

This is a (very) short version of the Red history, there is so much more to say about it, maybe someday when I will have some spare time, I'll write down the whole thing in a book, including my views on language design, and all the non-tech related side stories. ;-)

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