Code Interpreters: Running Code in Your Browser



Sabber Soltani

Sabber Soltani

June 22, 2024

Code Interpreters: Running Code in Your Browser

Let's start by understanding what a code interpreter is. It is an intelligent helper that can read and run code in real-time. It's like having a friend who speaks many programming languages and can instantly do what you tell them to do. This is very useful when working with AI that creates code because you can see the results immediately without waiting.

Code interpreters are special programs that can understand and run code without first turning it into a separate program. They read the code line by line and do what it says immediately. This is different from other ways of running code, where you might need to build the whole program before you can use it.

How Does Code Run in Your Browser?

Now that we know what a code interpreter is let's look at how it works in your web browser. It's a clever process that keeps your computer safe while allowing you to run code from the internet.

The first thing to know is that when you run code in your browser, it doesn't touch the main parts of your computer. Instead, it uses something called a "sandbox". 

When you or an AI writes some code on a website, here's what happens:

  1. The code is sent to the sandbox. This happens behind the scenes, so you don't see all the technical stuff happening.
  2. Inside the sandbox, the code interpreter reads the code and follows its instructions.
  3. As the code runs, the results are returned to your browser immediately. This is why things like charts or text appear almost instantly.
  4. Throughout this whole process, safety checks are in place. The sandbox ensures the code can't harm your computer or look at private information.

This whole system is designed to be fast and safe. It's why you can use complex tools or see AI-generated results without waiting for your computer to think about it for a long time.

One of the most incredible things about this system is how it can handle different programming languages. Many code interpreters can understand popular languages like Python, JavaScript, or R. No matter what kind of code the AI generates or you want to run; there's a good chance the interpreter can handle it.

The speed of code interpreters in browsers is impressive. In most cases, results appear almost as soon as you run the code. This instant feedback is helpful when learning to code or using AI to help solve problems. You can try something, see if it works, and then try again if necessary, without long waits.

To dive deeper into how sandboxes work, imagine them as tiny virtual computers inside your browser. Each sandbox is entirely separate from others and from your primary computer system. When you run code in a sandbox, it's like starting up a small, secure computer just for that piece of code. This virtual computer has its memory, a little pretend hard drive, and rules about what it can and can't do.

The sandbox creates a safe place where code can run freely without damaging your real computer. It's like letting a child play in a playpen – they can have fun and explore, but they can't accidentally break anything in the rest of the house. In the same way, code in a sandbox can do its job without any chance of harming your files or system.

One of the most essential features of sandboxes is that they can be quickly created and destroyed. Every time you run a new code, a fresh sandbox can be set up in milliseconds. Each run starts with a clean slate, preventing any leftover data or settings from previous runs from causing problems.

Sandboxes also control what the code can access. For example, if the code needs to use the internet, the sandbox can allow this but observe to ensure it's not doing anything it shouldn't. If the code tries to look at files on your computer that it's not supposed to, the sandbox stops it right away.

For AI systems, sandboxes are especially useful. They allow AI to run complex calculations, try out different solutions, and even install new tools, all without any risk to the user's system. This freedom lets AI assistants be more creative and assertive in problem-solving while keeping everything safe and secure.

Getting Started with Code Interpreters


If you're interested in using code interpreters, especially for AI applications, an exciting open-source project called E2B is worth exploring. E2B provides a secure sandboxed cloud environment specifically designed for AI agents and AI apps.

E2B Sandbox allows AI agents and apps to have long-running, secure cloud environments. In these environments, large language models can use many of the same tools that human developers use, including:

  1. Cloud browsers
  2. GitHub repositories and command-line interfaces
  3. Coding tools like linters and autocomplete
  4. The ability to run AI-generated code
  5. Audio and video editing tools

One of the critical features of E2B is that it can be connected to any large language model (LLM) and any AI agent or app. This flexibility makes it a powerful tool for developers working on AI projects.

To start with E2B, you can use their SDK, available for both Python and JavaScript/TypeScript. Here's a simple example of how to create and use a sandbox in Python:

from e2b import Sandbox

# Create sandbox
sandbox = Sandbox()

# Use the sandbox here (e.g., let an LLM interact with it)

# Close sandbox when done

The JavaScript version is similarly straightforward:

import { Sandbox } from "e2b";

// Create sandbox
const sandbox = await Sandbox.create();

// Use the sandbox here

// Close sandbox when done
await sandbox.close();

E2B also provides detailed documentation to help you get started and make the most of their sandbox environments.
For those interested in building custom code interpreters for AI apps, E2B offers a dedicated SDK built on its core functionality. This can be an excellent resource for developers looking to create more advanced AI-powered coding tools.
Whether you're a student learning about AI and coding, a professional developer working on AI projects, or just someone curious about the intersection of AI and software development, E2B provides a powerful and flexible platform to explore these technologies.
Remember, as with any coding project, it's essential to start small, experiment, and gradually build up your skills. E2B's sandboxed environments provide a safe space to try out ideas and push the boundaries of what's possible with AI and code interpretation.

Why Are Code Interpreters Important for AI?

Code interpreters are a big deal in AI, especially when making AI tools easy for everyone. Let's explore why they're so important.

First, code interpreters allow for instant results. When an AI creates some code to solve a problem or answer a question, you don't want to wait around for it to work. With a code interpreter, you can immediately see what the AI came up with. This makes the AI feel more helpful and responsive, almost like you're talking to a brilliant friend who can do calculations in their head.

This instant feedback is also great for learning. Imagine you're using an AI to help you learn how to code. The AI can show you how it runs in your browser. You can change things and see how it affects the result immediately. This interactive learning is much more engaging than just reading about code in a book.

Code interpreters also make it easier for people to try out new ideas quickly. If you're a data scientist or a developer working with AI, you can test your ideas without setting up a whole programming environment on your computer. You can type some code into a website and see what happens. This is helpful for prototyping – trying out new ideas to see if they work before spending a lot of time on them.

Another significant advantage is accessibility. Because code interpreters run in the browser, more people can use powerful AI tools without needing a super-fast computer or special software. All you need is a web browser, which most computers and phones already have. This means that advanced AI and coding tools are available to more people, no matter what kind of device they're using.

For businesses and researchers, code interpreters make it easier to share results. Instead of sending someone a program they need to install, you can send them a link to a webpage where they can see the code running live. This is great for collaboration and for showing off what AI can do.

Lastly, code interpreters are helping to make AI more transparent. When you can see the code that an AI is using and run it yourself, it's easier to understand how the AI is making decisions. This is important as AI becomes a more significant part of our lives – we want to trust and understand the AI tools we're using.