Open Sourcing The Anvil Full Stack Python Web App Platform


November 30th, 2020

51 mins 23 secs

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About this Episode


Building a complete web application requires expertise in a wide range of disciplines. As a result it is often the work of a whole team of engineers to get a new project from idea to production. Meredydd Luff and his co-founder built the Anvil platform to make it possible to build full stack applications entirely in Python. In this episode he explains why they released the application server as open source, how you can use it to run your own projects for free, and why developer tooling is the sweet spot for an open source business model. He also shares his vision for how the end-to-end experience of building for the web should look, and some of the innovative projects and companies that were made possible by the reduced friction that the Anvil platform provides. Give it a listen today to gain some perspective on what it could be like to build a web app.


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  • Your host as usual is Tobias Macey and today I’m interviewing Meredydd Luff about the process and motivations for releasing the Anvil platform as open source


  • Introductions
  • How did you get introduced to Python?
  • Can you start by giving an overview of what Anvil is and some of the story behind it?
    • What is new or different in Anvil since we last spoke in June of 2019?
  • What are the most common or most impressive use cases for Anvil that you have seen?
    • On your website you mention Anvil being used for deploying models and productionizing notebooks. How does Anvil help in those use cases?
  • How much of the adoption of Anvil do you attribute to the use of Skulpt and providing a way to write Python for the browser?
    • What are some of the complications that users might run into when trying to integrate with the broader Javascript ecosystem?
  • How does the release of the Anvil App Server affect your business model?
    • How does the workflow for users of the Anvil platform change if they decide to run their own instance?
    • What is involved in getting it deployed to production?
  • What other tools or companies did you look to for positive and negative examples of how to run a successful business based on open source?
  • What was your motivation for open sourcing the core runtime of Anvil?
    • What was involved in getting the code cleaned up and ready for a public release?
  • What are the other ways that your business relies on or contributes to the open source ecosystem?
  • What do you see as the primary threats to open source business models?
  • What are some of the most interesting, unexpected, or challenging lessons that you have learned while building and growing Anvil?
  • What do you have planned for the future of the platform and business?

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The intro and outro music is from Requiem for a Fish The Freak Fandango Orchestra / CC BY-SA