In 2014, I read an article in Scientific American by Markus Covert from Stanford about the successful computer cellular simulation of mycoplasma.
In 2015, I realised that Pipi had been a very early form of cloud computing, and I had been right about many things.
When building Pipi 4, I had been regularly told by developers from NZ Crown Research Institutes.
I think they were just jealous. Pipi 4 was a better system than what they had.
In 2016, I decided to rebuild Pipi from memory and convert it to a Software as a Service (SAAS) platform that could host a broader range of applications that would be more helpful to more people and be able to financially support itself. But first, I needed to catch up with how software development had changed.
Changes in Software Development
I was in Invercargill, and there was no one to work with. The NZERN archive was long gone, but I did find some copies of the NZERN website on the Internet Archive. Pipi 4 was never documented because of funding expense constraints, so I carried the design around in my head. However, I found a copy of the PIPI 4 Development Plan and still had the original software reference books.
So, working from 1st principles, I reconstructed the database core of Pipi without the ecological restoration parts.
I added multi-tenancy and 20+ metadata columns added to all tables.
The previous monolithic architecture was replaced by loosely connected modules.
I figured out how to turn all non-core modules into plugins.
I chose domain-driven design (DDD) as the methodology for organising future applications to run on this platform.
I quickly made up populated apps from space, health, particle physics, agriculture, film, construction, laboratory experiments, and wetlands to prototype and test the system's design for hosting various domains.
I decided to continue using ColdFusion (CFML) for the coding.
I then reverse-engineered the Covert Lab Mycoplasma cellular simulator to understand how it worked.
Pipi 6 was built by fusing the rebuilt core platform with Covert Lab's open-source cellular simulation software. It was challenging to do and was the cause of an unusual architecture.
Every process was given a random probability. And a lot of positive and negative feedback loops.
It was like composing music (In hindsight, synesthesia helped a lot).
The internet has changed everything. I could access the ideas and experiences of Martin Fowler, Gregor Hohpe, David C. Hay, Len Silverston, and many more. There were talks on YouTube as well. TDAN still existed, and a small group of well-organised CFML developers wrote a lot.
And there now was a thing called DevOps.
Special thanks to two people in Invercargill. Lesley Catterall for encouragement right when I needed it, and Martin Catterall for being a great sounding board about integration.
It was all going to work. It was rough and took 3 years to finish. By the end of 2019, it was time to refactor.