Is Dark an AWS Lambda challenger?

Posted by narayana on February 18th, 2020

On Monday, the CEO and Co-founder of Dark, Ellen Chisa, announced the project had raised .5 million in funding in a Medium post. Dark is a holistic project that includes a programming language (Darkling), an editor and an infrastructure. The value of this, according to Chisa, is simple: “developers can code without thinking about infrastructure, and have a near-instant deployment, which we’re calling deploy less.

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Along with Chisa, Dark is led by CTO, Paul Biggar, who is also the founder of CircleCI, the CI/CD pioneering company. The seed funding is led by Cervin Ventures, in participation with Boldstart, Data Collective, Harrison Metal, Xfactor, Backstage, Nextview, Promus, Correlation, 122 West and Yubari.

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What are the key features of the Dark programming language?

One of the most interesting features in Dark is that deployments take a mere 50 milliseconds. Fast.

Chisa says that currently the best teams can manage deployments around 5–10 minutes, but many take considerably longer, sometimes hours. But Dark was designed to change this. It’s purpose-built, Chisa seems to suggest, for continuous delivery.

In Dark, you’re getting the benefit of your editor knowing how the language works. So you get really great to autocomplete, and your infrastructure is set up for you as soon as you’ve written any code because we know exactly what is required.”

She says there are three main benefits to Dark’s approach:

  • An automated infrastructure
  • No need to worry about a deployment pipeline (“As soon as you write any piece of backend code in Dark, it is already hosted for you,” she explains.)
  • Tracing capabilities are built into your code. “Because you’re using our infrastructure, you have traces available in your editor as soon as you’ve written any code.
  • There’s undoubtedly a clear sense – whatever users think of the end result – that everything has been engineered with an incredibly clear vision.

Dark has been deployed on SaaS platform and project tracking tools

Chisa highlights how some customers have already shipped entire products on Dark. Chase Olivieri, who built Altitude, a subscription SaaS providing personalized flight deals, using Drark is cited by Chisa, saying that “as a bootstrapper, Dark has allowed me to move fast and build Altitude without having to worry about infrastructure, scaling, or server management.”

Downside of Dark is programmers have to learn a new language

Speaking to TechCrunch, Chisa admitted there was a downside to Dark – you have to learn a new language.

“I think the biggest downside of Dark is definitely that you’re learning a new language, and using a different editor when you might be used to something else, but we think you get a lot more benefit out of having the three parts working together.”

Chisa acknowledged that it will require evangelizing the methodology to programmers, who may be used to employing a particular set of tools to write their programs. But according to her the biggest selling point is that it will remove the complexity around deployment by bringing an integrated level of automation to the process.

Is Darklang basically like AWS Lambda?

The community on Hacker News compares Dark with AWS Lambda, with many pessimistic about its prospects. In particular, they are skeptical about the efficiency gains Chisa describes. “It only sounds maybe 1 step removed from where aws [sic] lambda’s are now,” said one user. “You fiddle with the code in the lambda IDE, and submit for deployment. Is this really that much different?”

Dark’s Co-founder, Paul Biggar responded to this in the thread. “Dark founder here. Yes, completely agree with this. To a certain extent, Dark is aimed at being what lambda/serverless should have been.”

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