We kicked off the beta programme for version 1.5 of Resolver One today. It’s got some really cool new features, including a console that lets you interact with your spreadsheets from a command-line-style interface, but there’s one other change, a tiny one that enables something really interesting — a combination of the spreadsheet’s ease-of-programming with seriously parallel computing that I don’t think is really possible with other tools.
We’ve been in touch with Digipede since Dan Ciruli, their Director of Products, blogged about Resolver One in January 2008. The Digipede Network is a system that allows you to easily code .NET programs that run on a grid of computers — and he’d set up a Resolver One spreadsheet that was able to call into code running on a Digipede Network to perform part of its calculations, which was particularly impressive given that he only needed to spend five minutes or so putting it together. Looking at what he’d done, I found myself asking “wouldn’t it be even cooler if the thing you ran on your compute farm was itself a spreadsheet?”
Since then, in version 1.3 of Resolver One, we added
RunWorkbook — a way in which you can call one spreadsheet from another, just like you call a function in a traditional programming language. And then earlier this month, Robert W. Anderson, Digipede’s CTO, put the final piece in place when he blogged about how he’d got IronPython objects running as worker tasks inside a Digipede grid.
Glenn Jones, who’d previously proven his bravery by leading the charge for the port of Resolver One to IronPython 2.0, spent a few days putting it all together; he discovered that a small tweak was required to Resolver One to make it all work, but we now have a working example that’s almost ready for release; a risk-analysis spreadsheet that stress-tests a portfolio of shares against stock market index moves by running simulations for each projected value of the index in parallel on a Digipede grid.
Glenn’s just adding the finishing touches to the spreadsheet now, and hopefully we’ll have it on the Resolver Exchange early next week.
[UPDATE] Here’s Glenn’s announcement of the sheet on our news blog, and on his own blog. Robert Anderson has also posted about it.