I can see both worlds... and kind-of 'going-back' to more 'free-flying' after or while still working with one leg+ in a 'perfectly well', very heavy (prison-gang)-tool-chained world is a challenge... to say the least... as for me.
That does not mean that we have to be stupid and throw out all what 'we' have learned since the mythical man month and while growing with all the more recent code dev, build, test, deploy, and management 'techniques'. But applying them in their spirit by living out a more self-disciplined approach than in a system-over-policed way is the way in this resource-constrained (Espruino) micro controller world.
I feel like being allowed to take the trainings-wheels off when switching to the Espruino platform. ...may be it is because I learned (and still learning) in the well guarded context. On the other hand I have to confess that even with Espruino I still take advantage of the guarded world:
As you - @boneskull - can see, there are things going on into your direction, but it should - as you say - be transparent to the user - if the user does 'not care' explicitly - and should happen in the spirit of Espruino... without compromising its resource frugalness.
For sure, more is to be conversed about and figured out how to make available for the Espruino community.
Btw, @alexanderbrevig, thanks to point out function edit. It does not only allow to modify (particular) code in an instance on the living object (without loosing the data) but also capture the final version to put it into the (edited) file... ;-)
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