Val Town Newsletter 16

Steve Krouse on

Over the last two months, we raised our seed round, welcomed Max to the team, shipped many new features and fixes, and seen awesome vals from the community.

We’re currently working on val runtime performance improvements and a redesign of the val page. We’re hiring a design engineer and generalist engineer in Brooklyn. Join us!

Prefer video? Here’s a walkthrough of the newsletter:

🌱 Val Town’s Seed Round

We raised $5.5m in a round led by Accel. Our mission is end-user programming: everyone should be able to build software, tailor apps to their needs, and automate their lives.

We want to make it so fast and fun to solve problems with code that you actually ship all those wonderful ideas you have to improve things for yourself, communities, and workplace. We’re building the place where you write the first line of code that becomes your next side project, internal tool, or startup.

🤗 Welcome Max!

Max is joining us from Voltus, where he was most recently a Staff Software Engineer, and formerly Director of Engineering. Max is extremely passionate about simplifying cloud development. In his free time, he’s built three (1, 2, 3) FaaS prototypes! We’re pumped to have him on the team. Expect things to run faster very soon.

Val Town team photo

Max, Steve, Tom, André

🫵 We want you

…to help us build the future of programming!

We’re hiring a design engineer and generalist engineer in Brooklyn. Join us!

What’s new in Val Town

Over the last couple months, we’ve been focused on on improving the onboarding experience for new users. We’ve also made it easier to code with the OpenAI API, rebuilt our AI code completion, added the ability to replay previous inputs, and many other improvements.

🎓 Onboarding

We’ve shipped a new onboarding page that guides you through creating your first val.

New onboarding textNew i=user's first val

🤖 OpenAI in the Standard Library

You can now code with the OpenAI API with zero setup via @std/openai. A small amount of free OpenAI usage is included in every Val Town account. For example, Cron Prompt, which converts English into cron syntax, is now powered by this val:

Val that powers the Cron Prompt API

🦾 Codeium Completions

We’ve rebuilt our AI code completion from the ground up on top of Codeium. It’s incredibly fast and accurate. We even send it your val’s readme and logs to have even more context to help you. You can turn it on or off in your editor settings. Our codemirror-codeium component is now open-source.

The Codeium code completion agent completes a snippet of code on Val Town

🔄 Replay previous inputs

Vals can now be triggered by replaying previous inputs to iterate faster on your code. Below is an example of an email handler val. I sent it an email but forgot to log it to the console. I can add a console.log and replay the previous email it received, without re-sending that email. Thanks @robinsloan for suggesting this feature.

⌨️ Power Bar

Val Town now has a ⌘-K / CTRL-K Power Bar. You can create or find vals, navigate to pages, or take val-specific actions, like fork or copy. Thanks @nbbaier for the feature request.

The new powerbar lets you access common actions at the touch of a button.

🔻 Downtime

We take downtime extremely seriously. We had our longest downtime ever (about 100 minutes) due to Render’s outage. We talked with Render about it. They’re working hard to make sure it doesn’t happen again. We are keeping an eye on it, and will be looking into ways to make Val Town more resilient.

Other updates

  • You can edit HTTP val’s preview URL. Thanks @alexmcroberts for the feature request.
  • Click on line numbers to link to lines:
  • New emacs and vscode bindings are available in editor settings.
  • We’ve got a cleaner trending page.
  • We lazy-load log lines to make loading large logs more responsive.
  • Images can be pasted into straight into readmes and comments.
  • Forking vals is now one-click instead of two
  • Profile menu & setting pages have been redesigned
  • New login page, inspired by Amit Patel’s feedback on Twitter
  • You can format code without save (in the cmd+k menu). Thanks to @nbbaier, @pomdtr, and the dozens other users who asked for this.
  • Val logs now show absolute time instead of relative time ago, which was confusing new users.
  • We reorganized our homepage to display more use-cases and moved features to a new features page.
  • Send fewer val error notifications when you’re actively working on a val.
  • Add a Run preview button on other’s users’ HTTP vals.
  • Improve Email handler argument types.
  • Popular packages now include imports.

🛣️ Roadmap

🎨 Val Page redesign

Vals are rich objects. They have: a name, versions, privacy, readme, type, links, comments, pull requests, forks, references, imports, and likes. We’re redesigning val pages to better surface all this information.

⚡️ Performance

Max is on it. We’re hopeful that we can reduce val baseline request time by 60% in the next couple of weeks!

Code search is key to find, share and re-use vals. We quietly launched a v2 beta search (example), but aren’t thrilled with it. Tom wrote a blog about how Code Search is Hard and we’ve gotten back dozens of suggestions. Thank you all!

Coming soon

Here’s what we plan to work on in the coming months. Please make feature requests and vote on what you’d like to see next.

🌟 Community Vals

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