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Filament: A Humanist Language

Filament is a humanist programming language for doing exploratory research and visualizations. Filament is reactive and organized around transforming and plotting data. It is a humanist language, because its primary concern is providing a good experience for the human doing the programming. It does not focus on performance or type safety, except where that would help the primary humanist concerns. Filament is a tool for thinking about things, not shipping production software.

See the intro document for more on the philosophy and what makes Filament unique.


Histogram of date states entered the union

        histogram( item: (s)=>state.date_entered_union,
                  label: (s)=>state.abbreviation,
                  bin_size: 10yrs)

How long would it take Superman to fly around the world

Let's assume he is faster than a speeding bullet. We need the circumference of the earth and the speed of the fastest bullet. Lets show it in hours.

earth.circumference / 4_000 ft/s as hours

Show the relative sizes of the planets in the solar system as a row of circles

planet_to_circle << (planet) => circle(
    radius = planet.radius,
    fill = color(hue=random(360))

DATASETS.PLANETS >> map(planet_to_circle) >> row() >> draw()

How many milliseconds is 15 minutes

  15 minutes as msec

Plot all of my friends on a map by their addresses as user avatars

select(contacts, where: (a) => a.type == DB.person and a.category == DB.contacts)
  >> for((f) => f.latlon = lookup_lat_lon(f.address))
  >> draw_geomap( coord: (f)=> f.latlon, label: (f)=>f.avatar)

The draw_map function takes a list of objects. If the objects are themselves lat/lon pairs it will just draw them with default markers. If the objects are not GeoCoordinates it will need an accessor function to pull out the lat lon. You can also use a mapping function to pull out a label.

Show the current position of the ISS on a map

import ISS
find_position(now()) >> draw_geomap( globe:true)

Draw the relative height of a 6ft man and 40in child

  rect(width:1ft height:6ft) >> man
  rect(width:1ft height:40in) >> child
  row([man,child]) >> draw()

Draw the relative thinness of every iphone

iphones = datasets('iphones')
  >> map( p => rect(width:p.depth, height:p.height))
  >> for( r => r.fill = color({hue:randi(360)}))
  >> row()
  >> draw() 

Plot the equation x^2 + 5x

fun eq = (x) => x^2 + 5x
plot(eq, range:[0,10])

10 tallest buildings in the world as table and diagram

order(DATASETS.BUILDINGS, by:'height', dir:'asc') >> take(10) >> buildings
buildings >> map(h => rect(height:h, width: h/10)) >> row() >> draw()

Chart atomic number vs year of discovery

elements = datasets('elements')

Calculate scrabble value of the word EXIT

let word = 'EXIT'
let letters = dataset('alphabet') => letters[letter].score) => sum()

Vector math for drawing points

// define some points
let A = [25,50]   // first point
let B = [100,50]  // second point

let AB = B-A   // subtract vectors to get the part between the two points
fun magnitude (A) => (A[0]**2+A[1]**2)**-2 
fun normalize (A) => (A/magnitude(A))
fun make_rot (Ø) => [ [cos(Ø), -sin(Ø)], 
                      [sin(Ø),  cos(Ø)] ]

fun dot (A,B) => + across (A*B)

fun cross (A,B) =>  [
    A[1]*B[2] - A[2]*B[1], 
    A[2]*B[0] - A[0]*B[2],
    A[0]*B[1] - A[1]*B[0],
fun angle (A,B) => arccos(dot(A,B)/(mag(A)*mag(B)))
// rotate by 90 degrees
let rotated = make_rot(PI/2) * AB

Random stuff

image manipulation

coord here is a vector of 2 numbers, (x,y) color here is a vector of 3 numbers, rgb, 0->1.

// mix each pixel w/ adjacent 50%/50
for(image, (coord, color) => {
    let adj = getPixel(image,coord+[1,0])
    return (color + adj)/2


Look at what LINQ does.

var ns = from x in Enumerable.Range(0, 100)
         where x * x > 3
         select x * 2;

is sugar for

var ns = Enumerable.Range(0, 100)
        .Where(x => x * x > 3)
        .Select(x => x * 2);

how about

range(100) >> select(where= x=>x*x>3, map:x=>x*2)


range(100) >> filter(x=>x*x>3) => map(x=>x*2) => show()

turned into block language

| make 0 to 10 | 
| include x where    |
|  x*x > 3           |
| transform x to |
|  x * 2         |


  • build your code up in pieces, incrementally. always be able to see the steps along the way
  • learn as you code. shortcuts are just sugar for plain stuff. learn the plain then learn the sugar
  • make a separate function, then inline it.


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