What & Why Is SEL

Author's Forward

I began my journey into creating Summit Event Language (SEL) with no intention of writing a programming language, general purpose or domain-specific. My original goal in early 2016 was to give founders a better toolkit for thinking about, and testing the logic behind, their business models.

Fast forward six years and I find myself staring at a nascent, high-level modeling language, exhumed from the messy substrate of direct and indirect feedback and opinions from thousands of users. Some of these users are very familiar with finance, but the most influential testers of SEL have been those that know they've got something to say, but struggle to figure out how to say it in a grid--that is to say, in a spreadsheet.

If you've ever gazed into a white abyss of spreadsheet cells and found yourself wishing you could reach for a dry erase marker instead, SEL is for you.

Spreadsheets are a marvel, and one of the most important computing inventions of all time, giving mere mortals the ability to build long chains of equations as easily as using a calculator. These long chains of equations, and flexibility inherent in a giant grid and freeform text entry, are clues that spreadsheets are first and foremost, a language.

When people ask why I created SEL, knowing that there would be a learning curve for users, my response is simple: because spreadsheets are themselves a language; to make a successor to spreadsheets, therefore, we needed to create a better language. A product would never do, because it would never be flexible enough. The feature set is fluid and ever-changing, like the businesses they manage.

That isn't to say SEL does not have a feature set! My joy is watching those willing to explore SEL discover its native understanding of time, the composability of its building blocks, and the flexibility and durability of the models it creates.

But the primary feature of SEL, and the reason it exists, is to provide you with a new and better way to express your gift for modeling. Like your own thinking, to be flexible, fast, and high-level. To keep up with your ability to see and describe a better future.

Matt Wensing

February, 2022