ASON and AltScript

ASON is a hierarchical text-based data exchange format.

ASON is a great way to serialize and exchange data between computer systems, to and from cloud servers, or even within the same computer system or application. It’s also excellent for storage in files, configuration scripts, system registries, and databases.

What’s it like? Imagine if you could write JSON like this:

user-database: [
    name: "John Smith"
    age:  22
    born: 1998-8-15
    usage: 8:22:45
    version: 3.2.14
    passhash: #A94A8FE5CCB19BA6
    colors: [ 255.100.50 50.50.80 ]
    allow: [ login admin upload edit ]
    check: [ if age > 60 [ add-to people.seniors ]]
  { ... more users ... }

ASON is what JSON was supposed to be. It provides an extended set of data-types written in a natural way, the concept of symbols (variables), a cleaner leaner syntax, machine-independent executable expressions, and lightning-fast parsing input to your favorite programming language.

AltScript extends the ASON data exchange format to execute data as code, greatly amplifying its semantic power. It can handle variables, objects, functions, namespaces, and a wide range of expressions in a safe and secure manner.

Beyond JSON…

If you’ve heard of JSON, then you know of its simple hierarchical data exchange format. However, JSON was inspired by a much more powerful language, Rebol. While JSON provides a simple format for exchange, it only allows 10% of Rebol’s features. ASON adds lexically recognized data-types, the concept of symbols (including variables), and capability for the interpretation of its content, both through native execution and also the incredible power of dialects.

Now is the time to bring those features back, and ASON does that.

Why do this?

It’s a personal quest. I created the Rebol language 20 years ago to enable distributed computing through the exchange and interpretation of information between systems. Rebol amplified my productivity. Data files had the same format as source files. The use of dialects boosted my productivity beyond any other programming method. I wrote dozens of apps, hundreds of small programs and tools, and a few large scale applications. I want to be that productive again, and I want to see others benefit from that also.

Where to go from here…

Other pages to visit:

Currently, there’s no code released for ASON no AltScript. When it becomes available, it will be posted to GitHub for distribution.