Atlas - or, what the hell are all these Github Repos?

Lacona is built very modularly - perhaps to a fault. This document describes what the different components do, what is proprietary and what is open source, and where to go to find code.

5000 Foot View

Lacona is a proprietary OSX Application developed by Lacona Labs, but built on much open source technology.

At the moment, Lacona Labs is an solo effort by Brandon Horst (Twitter, GitHub). If you want to get involved more than you want to work a job that pays money, contact me.

Lacona is composed of 7 major parts:

  1. The Lacona View, which collects user input and displays output to the user
  2. The Lacona Settings Page, which allows users to customize settings, and passes those values to the individual Commands and Extensions
  3. The Lacona Commands and Extensions, which tell Lacona how to understand language and what to do with it. This includes both the built-in commands and extensions and User Addons
  4. The Lacona Parser, which analyzes input from the Lacona View according to the schemas specified by the Commands and Extensions
  5. The Lacona API, which allows the Commands and Extensions, which are implemented in Javascript, to interact with the Operating System
  6. The OSX App, which ties all of the first 5 components together
  7. The lacona-cli development tool, which is distributed independently on npm

The LaconaApp Repo

The laconalabs/LaconaApp repo does not contain any code. It is only used to host the Changelog, to track Issues, and to serve as a home for the Gitter Chat.

The Lacona View

The Lacona View is actually a webpage, with lots of transparency and no border. The page itself is implemented using React. The page source is proprietary, but it is built largely on top of react-lacona, which is OSS. react-lacona can be forked to build similar interfaces for other applications using Elliptical technology.

The Lacona Settings

The Lacona Settings is a proprietary webpage, also implemented using React. However, the functionality is built on another LaconaLabs-developed OSS technology called Confine. It normalizes settings based upon the the JSON-based schemas that the Commands and Extensions provide, so that they can rely on the settings having a particular format.

The advantage of using a JSON schema is that a user interface can be developed automatically to handle it. This is done with react-confine.

Lacona also uses confine-key and react-confine-key to handle Keyboard Shortcut functionality.

The Lacona Parser + Commands and Extensions

The most important part of the app is the parser - the brain that actually parses the input according to the dynamic schemas. The actual parser logic is proprietary, but it is composed almost entirely of OSS; namely, Elliptical and the built-in Commands and Extensions.


The parser is built on top of an Open Source Interactive Language Parsing library called Elliptical.

Elliptical was developed by Lacona Labs in tandem with Lacona, but it is completely independent. It is pure Javascript, and has no ties to OSX or desktop productivity. Other companies are using the technology for other purposes (eg. HealthReactor).

Elliptical is a very flexible framework, and its functionality can be extended using processors. Lacona makes use of 4 of these processors:

  • elliptical/observe-inline, which provides Observable-based sideways data loading. This is how Lacona Sources are built.
  • elliptical/extend, which provides Linguistic Extension. This is how Lacona Extensions work.
  • elliptical/translate, which provides Internationalization. This allows Lacona Commands and Extensions to be used in multiple languages.
  • elliptical/wormhole, which provides "wormhole" data to phrases, that do not need to be passed down the tree. This is how phrases get access to Lacona Config objects.

Lacona also makes use of a number of phrases that have been built in Elliptical.

Commands and Extensions

The Lacona App has 8 built-in "Addons". That's an oxymoron, but they are packages built using exactly the same technology as custom user Addons - just they are bundled with the system.

  • lacona-communicate, which provides call, text, email, and similar commands
  • lacona-command, which defines what to do with BooleanSettings
  • lacona-finder, which provides open, switch to, quit, eject, and similar commands
  • lacona-events, which provides schedule and create reminder
  • lacona-itunes, which provides play, pause, stop, and similar commands
  • lacona-osx, which extends basic lacona-phrases with OSX-specific functionality, mostly gathered from OSX technologies like Spotlight and Applescript. It also provides shutdown, restart, turn on screensaver, and similar commands
  • lacona-search-internet, which provides search
  • lacona-settings, which provides turn off, turn on, and toggle
  • lacona-translate, which provides translate


The parser also makes use of

The Lacona API

Integral to Lacona is the API which exposes OS functionality to the JavaScript commands. This functionality lives in lacona-api. Unfortunately, this module is not self-sufficient - it must be executed in the global context of the Lacona Parser, as the logic is actually implemented in (proprietary) Objective-C code. It is not a general-purpose Node library.

Most commands interact with one another by using Phrases. Anybody can create new Phrases, but Lacona has a bunch built-in. These phrase live in lacona-phrases. Some phrases are simple wrappers around Elliptical phrases, while others have no implementation at all and must be extended (for example, by lacona-osx).

In addition to the proprietary Objective-C integrations, Lacona also ships with a complete copy of the Node.js binary, for use with lacona-api#callNode.

The lacona-cli Module

The lacona-cli module is entirely OSS, and is distributed independently of Lacona on npm.

It is only used for developing new Lacona Addons, and is not required for normal application use.

The Lacona Website

The Lacona Website has a full copy of Lacona running on it. The lacona-api functionality is stubbed out, but the rest of the code is the full Lacona Commands and Extensions, Elliptical, react-lacona, and all the rest. Isomorphic JavaScript is pretty cool, huh? It lives at laconalabs/

This GitBook docs page lives at laconalabs/