The Visi vision

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!

Finally someone with some vision:

I’ve come to believe that the future of computing devices is tablet devices…

HTML has lost the race for building great apps…

most development tools and paradigms approach the app building issues the same way they’ve been approached for the last 40+ years.  There’s precious little in today’s development paradigms that make distributed computing manageable…

Because built-in serializability, natural transactional boundaries (Refs), and complete dependency analysis, it’s easy to distribute computations across threads and whole systems without developer intervention …

But the core of the vision is to fundamentally change the programming paradigm and make it more accessible to real people.  To change programming from machine focused to people focused.  VisiCalc/1-2-3/Excel did this and HyperCard make programming less hard.  It’s time to take the amazing swaths of computing power sitting under our swipe screens and open it up to an order of magnitude more people.

Now that’s what I’m talking about! I enthusiastically endorse David’s vision; I have been working along similar lines for the last twenty years (I am embarrassed to admit). I am shocked that in all those years so few people have shared this vision. Sheep! I wish David the best of luck.

But as with every love story, there is a sad part:

Visi.Pro and Visi will always be defined, developed and built with strict adherence to Apple’s policies about what it allows on the App Store and on the iOS.  Visi.Pro, like the amazing Codea orNumbers, is a development environment and interpreted runtime.  I welcome any public or private (at Apple’s option) conversation with Apple regarding Visi.Pro to clarify the iOS and App Store rules and to insure that what we do with Visi.Pro is done clearly on the correct side of the line and with Apple’s happy blessing because, at the end of the day, our goal is to empower iPad and iOS users to rock their respective worlds!

That’s not going to end well. The iPad is a consumer appliance. Apple censors the apps and bans any programming on it. Why are so many programmers so in love with Apple that they forgive it being such an abusive asshole? Wake up! Apple doesn’t love you back.

11 Replies to “The Visi vision”

  1. The Mono Project makes .NET run on iOS, without violating Apple’s rules; I expect the same techniques could work for any language or development environment.

    I don’t think most programmers are “in love with Apple”, I think they want their products to have similarly high standards, and to make them available to users who have already shown some appreciation for that. I don’t think they want Apple, I think they want Apple’s customers.

    It’s also worth noting that iOS devices are deliberately intended to not work like computers – which (among other things) means no on-device development tools. If he’s trying to make development tools that run on iOS device, that is a mistake, but if he’s making development tools for iOS devices that run on “real computers”, I think he’s making sense.

    1. The issue is being able to download code to the iPad. Apple allows just two ways: via their app store, or JavaScript running in their browser. The former prevents true seamless cloud programming. The later forces many compromises compared to native code. Visi seems to be hoping that Apple will cut it an exception. Good luck with that.

      1. Ah, I got caught up in reading about the language features and forgot about the cloud part. Yes, that is a problem. I expect that will have to wait until Apple makes its own cloud computing toolset – which won’t be soon, but they’ll have to eventually.

    2. It always makes me sad when I read people claiming iPads are not real computers and don’t deserve programming environments. We are literally killing our seed corn.

      1. It’s not that the devices aren’t capable, it’s that the OS is designed to restrict access, and the curation of the store restricts use cases. They do seem to be moving toward merging mobile and desktop, and I expect we’ll be able to use them interchangeably eventually, but not soon. (On that front, I think Microsoft is pulling ahead with Windows 8, but it’s too soon to be sure.) For the time being, if you want to use your tablet for coding, you’ll have to use one that isn’t running iOS.

  2. It’s quite ridiculous how the guy first bashes terminal/mainframe architecture, no freedom, enslavement by IT and so on, and than goes on praising cloud computing and Apple 😀

    on the other hand, being inspired by Python, Haskell and data-flow seems very promising itself. and giving away even some parts as free software is always a plus!

    eventually it’s not the product itself that might carry such an importance (and that might always run just on iDevices for iPeople), but the idea behind it. and if that’s good, it’s easy to copy.

  3. I keep reading about all these people who have New Year’s resolutions to learn to code. There is a huge desire out there to be able to build software and generally make computers do stuff. What they don’t know is that even after they learn to code they will spend all their time shlepping data between the database and the browser. But software like Visicalc and Excel are proof that normal people can program if they have reasonable paradigms to work in. We need more people trying to do stuff like this.

  4. I would say that the successor to spreadsheet apps already exists as a real product today – providing visual dataflow programming for “normal people”… Please check it out at – the video on the home page explains the basic concepts in just a few minutes.

    1. That doesn’t look like something which would work at all on an iPad without rigorous rethinking of the interface. It actually looks rather old and over complicated with that Windows L&F.

  5. Why not target Android? There are phones + pads there and you don’t have these restrictions. Why the love for Apple while they cripple you?

    (I have the iPad 2 and Transformer Prime; I like them both, but after I replaced my iPhone 4 with the Galaxy S2, the prime wins because of the freedom I feel on those Android devices)

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