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Anvil’s open source server enables Python developers to create and run web apps anywhere

Anvil, a spin-out from the University of Cambridge’s Computer Laboratory, has made it easier for developers to design, build and ship web apps - and many companies have already used it for their Covid-19 response.

Anvil co-founders, from left, CEO Meredydd Luff and Ian Davies (34463891)
Anvil co-founders, from left, CEO Meredydd Luff and Ian Davies (34463891)

The company, based at Eagle Labs on Chesterton Road, has made its app server open source, meaning developers only need knowledge of Python to get full stack web apps up and running.

Traditional web app development requires knowledge of multiple languages and frameworks. This complexity slows down work and proves prohibitive for many programmers.

Anvil’s integrated development environment aims to remove the bottlenecks and the enhancement means apps can run anywhere, including on Raspberry Pi or on Internet of Things (IoT) devices.

Meredydd Luff, Anvil’s CEO and co-founder, said: “Anvil’s goal is to fix web development, by making it easier and faster for the world’s growing base of Python developers to create web apps.

“By extending our platform and embracing open source, we’re enabling developers to create their own apps in the Anvil Editor, export them and run them anywhere on their own hardware with our new app server.

“This gives developers even more choice and control. It also enables apps to run without needing an internet connection, making it ideal for IoT applications, remote locations or offline enterprise deployments.”

Founded in 2017, Anvil’s customers range from major financial institutions to start-ups such as FairShake, manufacturing companies such as the Universe Corporation, TV broadcasters such as Norway's RiksTV, and scientific organisations.

Baker Tilly, the 10th-largest accounting and consulting firm in the USA, used Anvil to build a process in record time for the newly-signed CARES Act, helping clients access financial relief.

Baker Tilly partner Todd Bernhardt said: “When the CARES Act was passed, we needed to help our clients access relief - fast. Using Anvil, we were able to deploy an all-new, secure web-based process for coordinating applicants and lenders incredibly quickly.

“We opened it to clients on April 2: that's less than six days after the law was signed, and just four business days after we started development. Deploying applications with Anvil is as fast as any alternative we have tried.”

Other organisations and individuals using Anvil in their Covid-19 response include:

Australia’s MDU Public Health Laboratory - the first laboratory outside China to recreate and analyse the coronavirus, which used Anvil to build and deploy essential tools;

Broadcast engineer Ardian Lama, of Kosovar TV station Rrokum TV, who created and deployed a web app in two hours to enable non-technical staff to collaborate as if they were in the same newsroom, and make changes from home, in real time and on-air; and

Data scientist Pablo Paniagua, who quickly wrote an app to let people in Costa Rica check when they could use their vehicle during lockdown. It went viral and was used by two per cent of the country’s online population within 48 hours.

Anvil has a free offer and plans for solo projects, scale-ups and maximum performance, ranging in price from $49-$649.

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