Nix shell as a standalone binary?

I remember seeing a project that was something like a client to a nix binary cache to be able to use packages from it without using nix: the rough idea I remember was that you could have users of your repo’s development shell use this client, which was a lighter weight alternative to nix (didn’t require a daemon or root installation, didn’t use /nix/store or something? maybe through something like GitHub - DavHau/nix-portable: Nix - Static, Permissionless, Installation-free, Pre-configured), even though it didn’t allow them to update the development shell’s configuration. The configuration for this client itself would be generated from nix files, and people working on them would need to have nix installed. The configuration for the client would include enough information to download the nar files from the nix binary cache, the actual evaluation of the nix derivation was done by nix.

The closest thing I’ve found is GitHub - lf-/gridlock: Nix compatible lockfile manager, without Nix which was also made to allow for collaboration of nix and non-nix users in the same workflow, but is for a different part of it I think.

Does anyone know what project I’m thinking of? Did I just dream of it? Maybe it was something completely different.

It’s not exactly what you’re describing, but maybe you could use nix bundle for that.