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Ryan Fleury

Hey, everyone!

It's almost time for the Wheel Reinvention Jam! It's starting on the 27th, which is this coming Monday. Be sure to explore or post project ideas, register for the jam, and get all of your coffee ready. I'm so excited to see what you all cook up!

During the jam, we encourage sharing progress (and result) either on the Discord (we'll have a special channel set up for jam showcase content) or on the forums. If you end up participating on Discord, be sure to connect your Handmade Network account to your Discord account!

To get things kicked off before the jam, the Handmade Network staff (myself, Ben, and Asaf) will be joining the Zig Showtime show tomorrow. We'll be chatting with Loris Cro, who runs the show, about reinventing wheels, the jam, and all things Handmade. Be sure to tune in.

Shortly after, we'll be having a coffee chat in the Handmade Network Discord, as usual for Saturdays.

That's all for now. Looking forward to seeing you all during the jam!


Ben Visness

For the past few months, Asaf and I have been working hard on rewriting the Handmade Network website - and as of today, we're pleased to announce that it is live, and you're using it right now!

The new site has been written from the ground-up in Go, replacing the old Python / Django codebase. The whole site should immediately feel snappier and more pleasant to use, but we've tried hard to keep all the features you know and love from the old site.

It's not all the same though. Here's one big new addition that we hope you'll like...

A new forum post editor (with Markdown!)

The old BBCode-based editor has been completely replaced with a new Markdown-based editor. It features real-time previews and all the features you'd expect from a Markdown editor, including GFM extensions and some features from Discord (like ||spoiler tags|| - always a favorite!).

However, if you are for some reason a BBCode diehard, that is still supported. You can freely mix BBCode and Markdown, and everything should just work.

In the near future, we're planning to add image uploads, so you can directly paste images into your posts without hosting them elsewhere. This has been a long-requested feature, and with this new codebase we're finally in a good place to tackle it.

What's coming next

With the new site released, we're in the perfect place to start working on lots of new features. Here's a few of the things we have coming up:

  • Image uploads in forum posts
  • Lots of special functionality for the upcoming Wheel Reinvention Jam
  • An overhaul of the project experience (more details when it's closer to launch!)

You may also notice that a couple features from the old site are in fact missing - the library, and the wiki.

The library will be ported soon, but had to be temporarily cut in order to make some of our other deadlines. When the library comes back, it will be better than ever, with new features that let you save your favorite articles for easy access later.

The wiki, on the other hand, is gone for good - but all the wonderful wiki content written by our community will have a new home. We're still working out the details, but rest assured that it will be back soon.

That's it!

We really hope you like the new site. It feels great to get this project out into the world, and we're eager to hear what you think about it. If you have any feedback, feel free to leave it as comments on this post, or create new threads in the Site Feedback forum.

Ben Visness
After a lot of planning, we are super excited to finally announce our second-ever jam: the Wheel Reinvention Jam!

The Wheel Reinvention Jam is an opportunity for you to fix something broken, to explore new takes on old ideas, or to just replace a tool that's bugging you. Members of our Discord may know that we have a #wishlist channel where people can post software that they want to see a "handmade" version of - something faster, something smarter, something more robust and high-quality than what they're stuck with today. This jam is our attempt to attack the software on that list and kick off the next wave of handmade programs.

This jam is a follow-up to our LISP jam from last summer, where several community members created LISP-related software over the course of a week. That jam produced some incredible projects, including a game framework, a novel "compute engine", and even an entire LISP-based OS, bootable on real hardware. Since then we've been itching to do another jam, and our ever-growing #wishlist presented the perfect opportunity.

After the success of last year's jam, we're sticking with a similar format this year: one week, loose rules, and an open-ended topic. It takes place from Monday, September 27, through Sunday, October 3. The full details can be found on the jam's dedicated landing page:


Whether you're an expert developer or a total beginner, we're super excited to see what you come up with. In the coming weeks, we'll be sharing more info about the jam and more details on how you can participate.

Until then, be thinking about what software you want to see replaced!
Ben Visness
Hello again, everyone! Just in time for July, we have a project update for the month of June.

If you're not familiar, we take an opportunity each month to highlight some of the amazing work that's being shared on the Discord server and share it with the broader community as well. We also get a few words from each project's creator so you can learn more about what they're up to.

We've got a big one today, so let's get into it!

Palanteer (by Dadaaam)

This project came out of nowhere this month. Palanteer is a comprehensive profiler for C++ and Python with many useful ways of viewing all kinds of performance data. It's a super exciting project, and the author has gone to great lengths already to make it ready for use.

Here's a little background to entice you.

I started this project 1.5 years ago, as a side project "just to relax" at home (boring job and 3 small and active kids...). Also, visual projects are funnier than embedded software, which is my main work.

The streams of Casey and Jonathan resonate when they encourage "handmade" code. I indeed learned a lot on this project, from coding on Windows (I am used to Linux), what is really Unicode (and how Windows solved it with the double A & W API instead of UTF-8), how to load GL extensions, all the X11 fun, ptrace for context switches, macro fun and their compatibility on main compilers, ...

It took so long before reaching an acceptable quality for several reasons:
- when a project is private, full freedom is preserved: breaking compatibility, changing deeply base principles...
- good usability and easy interfaces takes time and iterations. Most part were rewritten several times before their actual state. And it is probably not finished.
- it started with having in mind the RAD telemetry demo than Jonathan Blow made in one of his stream, in order to profile another pet project.

And quickly, it got enriched with a lot of features that I would have liked to have for my past projects (tracking data, memory, context switch, locks..., be able to graph all of them under different forms) and in a context which would solve the typical problems when instrumenting (emphasis on compile time work especially for strings, be able to enable instrumentation per group at compile time) or developing (assertions, stack trace...). At the end, be able to reuse the instrumentation to build tests was the last brick to solve the now general goal of the tool: "improve software quality".

I cannot say that the project "pivoted" because it followed its track without really turning, the goal just broadened with time.

In its actual form, the tool (profiler, viewer, scripting module) is fully functional. It needs testers to get better, find bugs thanks to different stimulation, get feedbacks on how to smooth it (details matter...) and improve it little by little.

Mu (by Kartik Agaram)

Mu is a project that consistently fascinates me. Kartik has a really unique outlook on computing and his work shows off an entirely different side of the Handmade ethos.

Kartik shared this info about the project this month:

The Mu project is about making software accountable to the people it affects. Today nobody understands the big picture of what goes on inside our computers. We started out with abstractions we could drill into the details of, but over time have ended up with abstractions we never want to look inside. I want to go back to the old meaning of "abstraction," a computer that exposes its insides to curious observers on their own schedule, and stimulates curiosity by helping them to answer questions about it for themselves.

Over the last month I've wrapped up the core skeleton of the computer: a relatively user-friendly, high-level and safe language built out of a low-level and safe language, which in turn is built out of a low-level and unsafe notation for bare x86 machine code without an OS. The top-most level is interpreted and slow. Speeding it up is a non-goal; it's intended to be for prototyping, and designed to nudge people to reimplement programs one level down once they decide what they want. I hope that way to avoid the tower of Babel in mainstream software, with languages piled ever higher on other languages without regard to comprehension and runtime cost.

I'm undecided on where to take it next. I might try to build a mouse or network driver. Or get it running on native hardware. Both are far out of my comfort zone, and I'd love to get help on them. Another recent idea is an offline reader for http://internet-in-a-box.org/.

Kartik frequently uploads short videos demonstrating different aspects of Mu. I find them really inspiring, and full of interesting ideas about new ways of interacting with computers. I recommend checking them out, and checking out his website.

Game Engine Series

For quite a long time now, a user by the name of Game Engine Series has been uploading a line of educational videos named...well, Game Engine Series. These videos take you through the process of creating a game engine from scratch, and there's quite a lot of material to dig into!

As a hobby, I've always wanted to make games and 15 years ago I really started studying what it takes to make a game. I'm not sure if commercial game engines were a thing back then, but the idea of using one to make a game didn't really cross my mind since I really wanted to know all the nuts and bolts that hold a game together. So, I started writing a "game" which was basically a render engine. That's when I started realizing that a game engine is much more than a graphics renderer, and that I actually liked the engine part more than creating the game. Since then I've been just writing game engines that are incrementally better than the previous ones. It's been a real learning journey that's still going on, which also benefitted my professional career as a software developer, simply because of the fact that as a game engine programmer I get to tackle almost all challenges in computer science.

After a while (and a lot of googling stuff, studying open-source game engines and going through StackOverflow), I thought it would be a cool idea to share everything I'd learned with others who're also interested in games and game engines. That's why I decided to make a video series that I'd have appreciated watching when I was starting to write my first engine, and that's how, about a year ago, The Game Engine Programming Series was born. 🙂

Instead of starting with a renderer right away, I decided to take my time and set up the infrastructure and the architecture of the engine and it took me almost a year to get to the point that I found would be a good time to start writing the renderer. This has been the subject of last months videos.

SlimApp & SlimEngine (by HardcoreCodin / Arnon)

It's no surprise to see great work from HardcoreCodin in #project-showcase, but this month he has been absolutely prolific. He released two projects in conjunction: SlimApp, a minimal platform layer for graphical applications, and SlimEngine, which extends SlimApp with 3D features. Both are tiny and result in tiny, efficient executables. Since the release this month, he's added all kinds of useful features without compromising the vision of the projects.

The project(s) drew inspiration from HMH, RayLib and olc::PixelGameEngine. I wanted something more minimal and hopefully simpler to get started with. That means no-brainer setup for both C and C++ with the same codebase and no dependencies.

By comparison, HMH does a ton right but was never meant to be 'minimalist' or reusable/customizable. olc::PixelGameEngine is C++ and uses OpenGL (also the API is not as simple as I would like). RayLib has simple C interface, but is C99 (so needs wrappers for C++) and uses OpenGL. It is also not very minimal - it has a lot of features built-in - so is more of a software stack.

So then, SlimApp is a platform-agnostic application/platform layer(s) for windowed application development. SlimEngine is just SlimApp extended with facilities for interactive 2D/3D application development.

Both come with example apps demonstrating their features with a heavily documented README. Both are available as either a single header file or a directory of headers (a "unity build" setup).

Both can be compiled as-is in either C or C++ with no dependencies (not even OpenGL). SlimApp doesn't use anything from any standard library. SlimEngine only uses the standard math header ('math.h'/'cmath.h') for sqrt(), pow() etc.

Bare-bone executables (on Windows) are ~13KB for SlimApp and ~17KB for SlimEngine.

And much more!

There were tons more projects this month that were worth showing off, but we really just don't have enough room here to dig into them all in detail. We'll share more about them in the coming weeks.

It's exciting to have so much to share - thanks for being such an amazing community!
Ryan Fleury
Hello, everyone!

I hope everyone is doing well! It has been another busy month in the Network, and I've got some exciting stories to share.

New Podcast Episode

First things first: We've been hard at work on more podcast episodes.

This month, we released the 14th episode, in which Demetri Spanos, artificial intelligence expert, PhD recipient, and former university professor, joins us to discuss a frequently-discussed subject on the Handmade Network: computer science and software engineering education (particularly in universities).

Demetri and I discussed the perceived problems in university computer science (and related) programs, how big of problems they are, what is being done about them, and what we might try to do about them in the future. It was a fascinating conversation, and I'm so excited to share it with everyone. I hope you enjoy the episode. Check it out here.

Handmade Seattle 2021

Handmade Seattle, the Handmade conference being put on by Handmade Network co-founder Abner Coimbre, is now going strong on its third year. I've had the privilege of attending every year thus far, and it remains one of my personal primary annual highlights.

This year, it'll be a hybrid event, meaning you can attend remotely, or in-person. Early bird tickets have sold out, so you'll need to purchase regular tickets now.

I really hope you can make it, and I hope to see you all there!

Education Fishbowl Discussion

On the Handmade Network Discord, we will semi-frequently host text-based fishbowl discussions, which involve a small group of participants (that can change over the course of a conversation) directly focusing on a particular topic. This month, we plan on discussing how software development is taught (tying in nicely to the previously-released podcast episode mentioned above).

There is a lot of interest in the discussion topic, and we're looking for more participants before scheduling. Please respond to the GitHub topic if you'd like to join, we'd love to have you in the conversation!

Mr4thDimention's YouTube Series

Allen Webster (Mr4thDimention) is the creator of 4coder. He's also a long-time, well-known community member on Handmade Network. He recently started sharing videos documenting his approach to structuring a codebase, and some of the problems involved.

I can speak from experience, both from working with Allen and working with 4coder, that I've learned so much, just by looking at the lessons he's learned in structuring codebases, and re-evaluating some basic assumptions in how I do things. I've dramatically improved as a programmer because of this.

You can improve too if you check out his videos! Here is the first one:

Wrapping Up

That's going to be all for now. Keep it up, Handmade Network! You all continue to amaze us, and drive us towards a much better place in computing, with the work you're doing.

Best wishes,