Jevko Vision: Total Intercommunication Of All Software Systems

This describes the vision behind Jevko, as formulated around 2021, and revised afterwards.


Syntax is so ubiquitous in software that it is taken for granted and often overlooked. Optimizing it is, for many reasons, not a very popular topic.

To give a feeling of the ubiquity:

Considering this, even a small inefficiency or unnecessary complexity of a syntax along with accompanying processing and cognitive burdens will translate to massive loss of productivity, efficiency, and ultimately monetary and environmental costs.

Jevko is based on the thesis that a simpler and easier syntax shall bring incalculable returns across the software world. The greater the adoption, the greater and more compounded the benefits.

It is a logical step towards simplicity in software evolution.

Historical precedents


The modern Web began with HTML which was designed as a markup language for static websites. As the Web became more dynamic, HTML’s generalized counterpart, XML, was pragmatically adopted as the universal notation for representing trees of data that were now sent between nodes.

These markup languages were however not well-suited for generic data representation. Another pragmatic step was taken to alleviate that. From JavaScript, the dynamic language of the Web, JSON was extracted as a simpler and more suitable data notation.

Today HTML, JSON, and JavaScript are becoming low-level languages, often machine-generated rather than written directly.

JavaScript was not meant as a low-level language however, so it is not perfect as the assembly language of the Web.

WebAssembly is an emerging attempt to fix that. It adopts a generic human-readable syntax: S-expressions.

Before CSS became established as the stylesheet language of the Web, there was an S-expression-based alternative to it called DSSSL.

S-expressions were invented before the Web and serve as the basic syntax for code and data in the oldest syntactically-preserved family of languages, widely used to this day: the LISP family. Many popular languages, including JavaScript, have roots in this family.

S-expressions are a minimal generic syntax, like Jevko. Because of that they can be used to encode different kinds of trees: data, markup, source code.

They were however not explicitly designed as a universal syntax. Because of that, and because of historical accidents S-expressions ultimately remain a niche technology, compared to HTML/XML or JSON.

Original motivation for Jevko

What if things went differently and S-expressions were ubiquitously adopted as the unified syntactic foundation of the Web? Why didn’t this happen?

Trying to answer questions like these is what eventually led to the creation of Jevko. Early designs were very much inspired by S-expressions.

Jevko is the result of an obsessive pursuit of the universal syntax, guided by relentless minimalism.

Original vision

The vision of total intercommunication of all software systems was to be realized through Jevko as follows.

First, simple and human-friendly notations are built on top of Jevko along with tools to enable their use.

These are initially adopted for configuration, as standard input and output formats of offline tools, similarly to how JSON is used today.

Jevko-based counterparts of JSON, HTML, CSS, S-expressions, and other notations are gradually adopted and become standard.

The goal of this evolution being the achievement of low-level unification of the basic data, markup, style, configuration, and source code notations of the Web.

Such removal of fundamental incompatibilities would obviate the need for incalculable number of unnecessary translations, freeing enormous computational and cognitive resources.

From that a new and more efficient Web would emerge with Jevko as its syntactical backbone, accelerating further development and opening up exciting possibilities.

This vision would be achieved in small steps over a long time with collaboration of everyone who was willing to make it a reality.

In very, very distant future Jevko would facilitate interplanetary, interstellar, cosmic-scale communication…

Original hope for Jevko

A naive and idealistic hope was that obsessively following curiosity to get as close as possible to a perfect design, and giving that to the people would be enough to bring about significant change in the software world. Massive adoption would naturally follow. And eventually, through simplification and unification, lives of billions of users would be subtly improved.

However, having confronted that hope with actuality, it is clear that this is not realistic, if it is possible at all.

Revised motivations

From a more cool-headed perspective, it seems miraculous that we have standards like XML or JSON at all.

The factors that determine the adoption of these standards are very complex. Probably social ingredients play the major role here, much bigger than the technical ingredients. Some of it is just accidental.

Ultimately massive adoption of technologies is a large-scale organic process that cannot be controlled, just like the stock market or the weather.

Trying to more or less abruptly “replace” established technologies is certainly not the way. Supplementing them and integrating with them is much better. Natural processes then are likely to shape the amalgamation into what is best fit for the environment.

Revised vision and hope

I am convinced that Jevko is very valuable. It is a good idea and a beautiful artifact. I am satisfied with it and happy that I was able to find a way to distill it. The time and resources I put into that were well spent.

Even if it isn’t widely adopted, I feel Jevko will find its niche. Even if that doesn’t happen, I feel it will eventually be reinvented/rediscovered and surface in another incarnation. It is simply sensible for a thing like it to exist.

The original vision is not completely absurd, and I think there is a point somewhere where a version of it meets reality. Jevko can simplify and optimize things. It can make some people’s lives more pleasant. Question is to what extent and how soon.

That remains to be seen. I will observe with curiosity and continue my work, as far as I can. I hope it inspires you.

– Darius J Chuck