Category Archives: General

Time is of the Essence

The following is an abstract of a position statement for the Live programming workshop at ICSE.

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Down the rabbit hole of types

Time for a progress report, now that I have some progress to report. I didn’t get much research done last semester because I was teaching a new class: 6.170 Software Studio. It was a noble experiment with mixed results, but that is another story. Back in March I presented the latest version of Subtext at the IFIP […]

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Turing on programming

The process of constructing instruction tables should be very fascinating. There need be no real danger of it ever becoming a drudge, for any processes that are quite mechanical may be turned over to the machine itself. – Turing, A. M., 1946, Proposed electronic calculator, report for National Physical Laboratory, Teddington So was Turing wrong, or are […]

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Domain specific programming experience

The discussion on the last post suggested Domain Specific IDEs as a possible way forward. By restricting the domain (e.g. games) the IDE might gain enough semantic insight into the program to properly support advanced interaction designs like live code execution and direct manipulation of results. Well here is a perfect example: the Iguana Translator. These guys […]

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An IDE is not enough

The internets are buzzing with new IDE ideas. I credit Bret Victor’s masterful demo for much of this. Chris Granger is having amazing success kickstarting his IDE concept. Josh Marinacci discussed some possibilities. [Another one: Instant C#] I have been working in this area for over a decade and have very mixed feelings about these […]

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Kickstarter: the aftermath

On Kickstarting research I asked for comments on the Light Table project. They were largely positive. Now, for the sake of argument, let’s assume this will be a complete disaster (a reasonable assumption based on history). What are the consequences? Are people going to be pissed off and give similar efforts a bad rap? Or will they […]

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Kickstarting research

Chris Granger has a Kickstarter project to fund his IDE concept Light Table. He is looking for $200K and already has more than $100K in 13 days. It took him 6 days to build the demo. There is much I want to say about this, but it all pales in comparison to the raw facts […]

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Onward! Call for Research Visions

It’s time to put it down on paper: http://splashcon.org/2012/cfp/due-april-13-2012/380-onward-papers  

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The Visi vision

http://visi.io/ My motivation for Visi is to change the landscape of computer languages the way that VisiCalc changed the language and computing landscape in 1979. Yes yes yes!

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Microsoft endorses JavaScript (except when they need to get work done)

This post from the JavaScript team at Microsoft endorses JavaScript evolution as the basis of the future web, and criticizes the “clean break” of Dart. It also reveals Script#, Microsoft’s equivalent to GWT, used to write “hundreds of thousands” of lines of code in their Office Web Applications. This is hypocrisy. They endorse JavaScript while finding it […]

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Real world visual programming

I saw an interesting demo at SPLASH of an end-user visual programming language: Cloud Extend. There were two main interesting points. First, it is used to build plugins for Salesforce. Major web applications like Salesforce, and especially Facebook, are becoming software platforms unto themselves. This is a great target domain for end-user programming tools. The […]

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Devolving Subtext to JavaScript

I have to rewrite Subtext in JavaScript. First, a quick update. I presented my prototype implementation at the working group this summer, to a tepid response. But in the course of preparing for that I thought of a radical simplification to the language. That inspired a whole rampage of brutal simplifications. The code is so […]

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The Frontier of Touch

I have been looking at the various touch/tablet platforms. It seems to me that the JavaScript/HTML5 stuff is way out past the frontier of civilization. There is a saying that when armchair warriors meet they talk about strategy and tactics, but when generals meet they talk about logistics. Likewise when someone shows me a new […]

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From text to touch

I saw some interesting work on touch programming languages at Onward. You may already have seen Codify. That is still a mostly textual language, as the clickety-click of the keyboard in the video attests. The new research explores how to program entirely in touch, which requires avoiding typing as much as possible.

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The Genius of Jobs

Steve Jobs’ biographer, Walter Isaacson, writes in the NY Times: The ability to merge creativity with technology depends on one’s ability to be emotionally attuned to others. Mr. Jobs could be petulant and unkind in dealing with other people, which caused some to think he lacked basic emotional awareness. In fact, it was the opposite. He […]

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Off the Beaten Nail

New workshop at POPL: Off the Beaten Track: Underrepresented Problems for Programming Language Researchers. In other words: “New Problems for Old Solutions”.

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Onward! 2012 program

I am program chair of Onward! 2012. What do you want to see? Here is one thing I am thinking about. I understand that in the real sciences, conferences often accept papers based solely on an abstract. That wouldn’t work for Onward, or even most of CS. Perhaps we should instead use the opposite of […]

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A win for design

Programming is not just engineering — it is design. All my hopes and beliefs about programming boil down to that one assertion, which has become my main cause. The misunderstanding of programming as engineering has many pernicious effects, infecting our tools, technologies, and practices. Computer Science embodies this fallacy in its very name. Therefore I […]

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It’s a good day to code

We have ignition: an actual implementation of an actual language. Toy-like in the extreme, but it can run the sorts of simple examples I have been discussing the last few years. I think I can take it all the way to a prototype application framework. This is huge progress.

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Delusions of Programming

It’s great to be coding again, after spending so long lost in thought and theory. This has been my longest break from programming since I started at 13. I now have a working virtual machine that supports the essential semantics of the language. The next step is a compiler. The good thing about having a […]

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