Skip to content

What is Shards

Before we delve into the intricacies of Shards, let's familiarize ourselves with its fundamental concepts.

The shard

The basic building block of the Shards programming language is called a shard (with a lowercase ‘s’).

A shard can receive an input, do work on that input, and produce an output.

A shard takes in an input and produces an output.

Every shard has a role and is usually named after it. For example, the shard Math.Add takes a number as an input, adds a specified value to it and outputs the result.

The Math.Add shard.

Shards can be grouped up to form another shard.

For example, you might have a meow shard that prints a "meow" to the user's screen, and a mew shard that prints a "mew" instead.

The meow and mew shards.

If you wanted your program to be able to make cat noises, you might have a bunch of meow and mew shards... which could end up being rather cluttered:

A gathering of meow and mew shards.

To keep our work organized, we can group shards up to form a new shard. In our example, we can create a new meows shard that is made up of a few meow shards, and create a mews shard for our mew shards.

Grouping shards up to for a new shard.

When our shards are grouped up into logical segments, our program becomes more readable and orderly.

Grouping shards up into new shards helps to keep the program organized.

The Wire

In the flow of a Shards program, each shard is queued for execution and will be run in the order they are presented in. The order goes from left to right, top to bottom.

When shards are queued, they form a sequence know as a Wire.

A Wire.

Wires can be set to be loopable. This is called a Looped Wire.

A Looped Wire.

You may look at this and wonder - is this the same as grouping shards together? When shards are grouped up to form a new shard, they are still executed from left to right, top to bottom after all.

The answer is... no! A Wire is not the same as a shard containing shards.

A Wire queues shards for a purpose, while grouping shards up are for organization. In the earlier example, we were trying to create a program that makes cat noises. We can achieve that by queueing our shards in a Wire named make-cat-noises.

The meows and mews shards are queued up in a Wire that makes cat noises.

Whenever we want our program to produce cat noises, we would call the make-cat-noises Wire. A Wire is similar to what we call a function in traditional programming languages.

What is a function?

It is a block of code that can be reused over and over again.

It allows you to reuse code without writing out the same block of code each time by calling the function's name instead.

Think of shards as the different components of your program, while Wires are the lifeblood connecting the many different shards in your program, creating a Flow.

By mastering the usage of Wires, the possibilities of what you can achieve are endless!

Wires are the lifeblood of your Shards program.

The Mesh

In order to actually run shards, we have to schedule Wires on a Mesh. Multiple Wires can be scheduled, and they will be run in the order that they are scheduled in.

After scheduling our Wires, we can finally run the Mesh... and that is when Shards comes to life!

A Mesh.


If the scheduling of Wires seems rigid to you, fret not! We will be learning more about manipulating the flow of Shards later.

Now that you have a basic understanding of what Shards is, let us take a look at how coding with Shards work.