The engineering teams at Lokad have spent the last decade refining Envision, a specialized programming language dedicated to the predictive optimization of supply chains. As it turns out, most supply chain optimization challenges are, well, weird (for a lack of a better word) and mainstream software technologies fall flat on their faces when confronted with such challenges. Lokad, however, is game for the task, so much so we are proud to announce the official launch of a public Envision playground.

Playground code editor

No registration needed. Simply upload your file(s), crunch them in Envision, and share the results with the world. As a professor, let all your students have their own cloned copy of pre-configured setups.

We are committed to keeping this playground available free of charge indefinitely1 for absolutely everyone. Supply chains are stuck in numerous obsolete practices and technologies, so let this hopefully be the start of a trend. It is high time the broader community experiences what 21st century supply chain optimization looks like, and popularizing this approach is a long-term interest of Lokad.

This playground has been designed with academia in mind but we wanted the classroom experience to be as straightforward as possible. Envision has never been much of a secret: from the start, our technical documentation has been public. However, gaining access to Envision had remained a clunky affair2, but now …

Type the URL and you’re in, no questions asked. Compared to the “production” version of Lokad, registration and user accounts had to be axed. The fact is, when considering a 50-student classroom, even a simplistic registration3 is a guaranteed recipe for half a dozen people spending the first hour getting their account set up.

Pick a setup, and dive into a built-in exercise. A “setup” is a pre-configured environment of the playground that includes its own Envision script and data files. Setups can be crafted and then shared via short URLs. A setup is typically intended as the starting point for an exercise to be completed by a student. Or the other way around, a student can send back their solution to the professor.

Through setups, students don’t have to waste time at every step of every exercise – e.g., copying files and code snippets – in order to move forward. Setups take care of that.

The environment of enjoys most of Lokad’s capabilities, including the fancy ones like probabilistic forecasting and differentiable programming. The (few) omitted features are the ones that don’t make much sense from a playground perspective, like being able to automate file transfers, schedule script executions, and configure user access rights. We do have some caps in terms of computing resources, but we want to keep those caps large enough so that training sessions can proceed smoothly.

  1. Our long-term plans remain to eventually release an open-source non-distributed desktop version of Lokad. However, we are simply not there yet. This playground is merely a step in that direction. ↩︎

  2. We have always honored the request for free testing accounts, and we still do. All it takes is to send an email to the support team of Lokad. However, while the friction is limited, it’s still a hurdle when it comes to the setup of a classroom with 50+ students. ↩︎

  3. People struggle to pick a username and a password. If there is an email validation, some people will struggle with failed email delivery. If there is no email validation, some people won’t remember the details they picked a week after the fact. ↩︎