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Launching Pglet

Feodor Fitsner

Feodor Fitsner

Pglet founder and developer

Today we are officially launching Pglet!

This is not a groundbreaking event shaking the World and it won't make any ripples on the Internet, but it's still very important milestone for us as it's a good chance to make functionality cut off and present Pglet to the public.

What we've got#

You probably won't be able to do a real app with Pglet yet, but we believe it's quite the MVP in a Technical Preview state. The core Pglet functionality is there: pages can be created, controls can be added, modified and removed with live updates streamed to users via WebSockets, page control events triggered by users are broadcasted back to your program - the entire concept's working. We've got basic layout (Stack) and data entry controls (Textbox, Button, etc.) to do simple apps and dashboards, but Fluent UI library, Pglet is based on, is huge and it's a lot more controls to do!

We've got Pglet client bindinds for 4 languages: Python, Bash, PowerShell and Node.js. We chose these languages for MVP to have a good sense of what might be involved in supporting another language. These are scriping non-typed environments mostly, but probably the next binding we do would be Go or C#. Python bindings is the most complete implementation with classes for every control and control event handlers.

We've got Pglet Service which is a hosted Pglet server which you can use right away to bring your web experiences to the web. For technical preview it's just a basic deployment on GAE (will do a separate blog post about that), but quite enough to play with.

The experience#

It's been really exciting to work on Pglet during the last 6 months and we learned a lot. Being a C# and mostly Windows developer for more than 15 years it was an absolute pleasure to develop in Go: clean and simple language syntax, goroutines and channels, everything async by design, explicit exceptions management - I'll probably do another post about that experience! Making Pglet UI in React with TypeScript was fun as well: both are fantastic technologies! There is also a challenge to support multiple platforms. Pglet works on Windows, Linux and macOS and you need to constantly think about the experience on all 3 platforms and do a triple amount of tests, CI workflows and other chore things.

What's next#

For year 2021 our goal is being able to build and run full-blown backend apps in production. Therefore we are going to work in multiple directions:


We are going to add more controls and improve existing ones. Pglet is still missing navigation controls like menus, toolbars and tabs. Grid is on top priority, for sure, and it's going to be the huge! Charts will be added as well, so you can build beautiful dashboards.

Pglet Service#

This year we are going to bring Pglet Service into production mode with a proper persistence, authentication and account/profile dashboards. All Pglet backend UI is going to be implemented with Pglet.

More docs and examples#

We'll be working on providing more Pglet examples, we'll write deployment guides for standalone Pglet apps and self-hosted Pglet Server.


At this stage we are actively looking for any feedback to understand if the project idea is moving in the right direction. We'd be happy to know what would be your requirements, what's missing in Pglet, what's nice or inconvenient, what could be implemented with higher priority.

Feel free to give Pglet a try and let us know what you think! There are multiple feedback channels available:

Introducing Pglet

Feodor Fitsner

Feodor Fitsner

Pglet founder and developer
Pglet (pronounced as "piglet") empowers DevOps to easily add rich user interface into their internal apps and utilities without any knowledge of HTML, CSS and JavaScript.

The problems of internal apps#

Hi, I'm Feodor, the founder of AppVeyor - CI/CD service for software developers.

At AppVeyor, as any other startup, we do a lot of internal apps supporting the core business. Our users don't see those apps. These could be scripts for processing database data, monitoring dashboards, background apps for housekeeping, scheduled scripts for reporting, backend web apps for account management and billing.

Internal apps need User Interface (UI) to present progress/results and grab user input. The simplest form of UI is text console output. Console output can be easily produced from any program or script.

Text output has limitations. It could be hard to present complex structures like hierarhies or visualize the progress of multiple concurrent processes (e.g. copying files in parallel). There is no easy way to fill out the form. Plain text cannot be grouped into collapsible areas. We need rich UI for our internal apps.

Console output can be logged and studied later or you can sit in front of your computer and stare at log "tail". But we want to be mobile. We want to control internal apps from anywhere and any device. We want to share the progress of long-running process with colleagues or send a link to a realt-time dashboard to a manager. Maybe have "Approve" button in the middle of the script to proceed with irreversible actions. We want to collaborate on the results in a real-time. Does it mean we need to build another web app?

Building web apps is hard. Our small team is mostly DevOps. We all do development, deployment and maintenance. We are all good in doing backend coding in different languages: Bash, PowerShell, Python, C#, TypeScript. However, not every team member is a full-stack developer being able to create a web app. Frontend development is a completely different beast: HTTP, TLS, CGI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, React, Vue, Angular, Svelte, WebPack and so on. Web development today has a steep learning curve.

Building secure web apps is even harder. Internal app works with sensitive company data (databases, keys, credentials, etc.) and presumably hosted in DMZ. You simply can't allow any developer being able to deploy web app with an access to internal resources and available to the whole world.

Pglet to the rescue#

Let's say you are the developer responsible for deployment and maintenance of backend services and database - DevOp. You mostly work with Golang and use Bash or Python for writing scripts and tools. Your team asked you to implement a simple real-time dashboard with some metrics from backend services. Dashboard should be accessible outside your org.

Should you do a web app? You don't have much experience of writing web apps. Alright, you know the basics of HTML/CSS, you know how to use StackOverflow, but how do you start with the app? Should it be IIS + FastCGI or Flask, plain HTML + jQuery or React, or something else?

Pglet gives you a page, a set of nice-looking controls and the API to arrange those controls on a page and query their state.

Pglet is the tool that hosts virtual pages for you. Think of a page as a "canvas", a "hub", an "app" where both your programs and users collaborate. Programs use an API to control page contents and listen to the events generated by users. Users view page in their browsers and continuosly receive real-time page updates. When in- API is just plain-text commands like "add column A", "add text B to column A", "get the value of textbox C", "wait until button D is clicked" - it's easy to format/parse strings in any programming language.

Bash-like pseudo-code for a simple app greeting user by the name could look like the following:

# create/connect to a page and return its "handle" (named pipe)
$p = (pglet page connect "myapp")
# display entry form
echo 'add row' > $p
echo 'add col id=form to=row' > $p
echo 'add textbox id=yourName to=form' > $p
echo 'add button id=submit to=form' > $p
# listen for events coming from a page
while read eventName eventTarget < "$p.events"
# user fills out the form and clicks "submit" button
if [[ "$eventTarget" == "submit" && "$eventName" == "click" ]]; then
# read textbox value
echo 'get yourName value' > $p
read $yourName < $p
# replace forms contents with the greeting
echo 'clear form' > $p
echo "add text value='Thank you, $yourName!' to=form" > $p

You can build a web app in Bash! No HTML, no templates, no spaghetti code. You don't need to care about the design of your internal app - you get fully-featured controls with "standard" look-n-feel. What you care about is the time you need to deliver the required functionality.


  • Imperatively program UI with commands.
  • Standard controls: layout, data, form. Skins supported.
  • Fast and simple API via named pipes - call from Bash, PowerShell and any other language.
  • Secure by design. Program makes calls to Pglet to update/query UI. Pglet doesn't have access and knows nothing about internal resources located behind the firewall. Pglet keeps no sensitive data such as connection strings, credentials or certificates.
  • Two types of pages can be hosted:
    • Shared page: multiple programs/scripts can connect to the same page and multiple users can view/interact with the same page.
    • App: a new session is created for every connected user; multiple programs/scripts can serve user sessions (load-balancing).