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Nial is an APL-family language actively maintained and developed by John Gibbons. It uses the nested array model and closely follows APL-derived languages semantically, differing from tradition in its use of atlas,[1] left-to-right evaluation, and usage of words for builtins and primitive functions.


Nial was developed by Mike Jenkins and Trenchard More in a collaborative research project supported by Queen's University at Kingston and IBM Cambridge Scientific Center from 1979 to 1982. Jenkins' team at Queen's designed and implemented a portable C-based interpreter, Q'Nial, that was initially released in 1983.

The language combines Trenchard More's theory of nested arrays with Mike's ideas on how to build an interactive programming system. The goal was to combine the strengths of APL array-based programming with implementation concepts borrowed from LISP, structured programming ideas from ALGOL, and functional programming concepts from FP. The interpreter, originally developed for Unix, was small enough to run on the then newly released IBM PC and portable enough to execute on IBM mainframes computers.

Nial Systems limited licensed the interpreter from Queen's University and marketed it widely. Mike Jenkins continued to refine both the language and its implementation, and in 2006 he released Version 6.3 as an open source project to encourage continued development of Nial.

In 2014 Jenkins started working with John Gibbons to develop a 64-bit version and to add capabilities that Gibbons needed for his work. They decided to target Unix-based platforms and release Q'Nial on GitHub.

A new website for the QNial7 repository with documentation was made in 2021, and is currently undergoing development.[2]

Nial was featured on the Array Cast in 2023.

External links


APL dialects [edit]
Maintained APL+WinAPL2APL64APL\ivApletteAprilCo-dfnsDyalog APLDyalog APL Visiondzaima/APLGNU APLKapNARS2000Pometo
Historical A Programming LanguageA+ (A) ∙ APL#APL2CAPL\360APL/700APL\1130APL\3000APL.68000APL*PLUSAPL.jlAPL.SVAPLXExtended Dyalog APLIverson notationIVSYS/7090NARSngn/aplopenAPLOperators and FunctionsPATRowanSAXSHARP APLRationalized APLVisualAPL (APLNext) ∙ VS APLYork APL
Derivatives AHPLBQNCoSyELIGleeIIvyJJellyK (Goal, Klong, Q) ∙ KamilaLispLang5LilNialRADUiua
Overviews Comparison of APL dialectsTimeline of array languagesTimeline of influential array languagesFamily tree of array languages