I have produced a Flash video of my upcoming OOPSLA presentation. It is divided into two parts, both about 15 minutes long. The first part recapitulates the previous video of building a factorial function. There are some new features, but if you already watched the older video, you can skip it without missing much. The second part demonstrates my new approach to I/O and mutable state.
I am excited about this development, not only because it addresses a big problem lacking good solutions, but also because it is going beyond “mere” usability issues. It has been easy up till now to dismiss my work as just repackaging standard language semantics into a different user interface. Now I am starting to show that fundamentally changing the way we represent programs can fundamentally change the way we think about them.
As always, please let me know what you think.
[10/24/05: updated the slides at the very end to match what I actually presented at OOPSLA]
If you are going to be at OOPSLA and are interested in getting together, drop me an email. We could organize a BOF session, and perhaps also have a group dinner.
Dynamic Aspects has published their upcoming OOPSLA presentation of domain/object, the language underlying their Java IDE. There is a remarkable correspondence between their ideas and my own. This makes reviewing their paper a difficult proposition: it would be easy to nitpick over differences; but it would be equally easy to falsely read my own ideas between the lines of theirs. Continue reading “domain/object”
One of the anonymous reviewers of my OOPSLA paper made the point, paraphrasing, that the main problem in software development is not the difficulty of programming, but the difficulty of getting a development project to function effectively. This is usually seen as the subject of methodology, with â€œextremeâ€ and â€œagileâ€ methods being the latest trends. My initial reaction to this criticism was to point to the example of spreadsheets, which make a certain class of problems simple enough to be solved by an end-user or power-user themselves, without enduring the trials and tribulations of a professionally staffed development project. Even on such multi-person projects, reducing the programming effort ought to reduce the size of the team and the number of interactions subject to error. However the fundamental point of the criticism remains true: the biggest problem in software development is teamwork. It has occurred to me that the design philosophy of Subtext can contribute to solving this problem. Continue reading “The Currency of Development”
My little screencast has now gotten over ten thousand hits. Amazing. It seems there is a large pent-up desire for a better way to program. I have gotten lots of positive feedback, much of it endorsing not so much the particulars of Subtext as that I am making an attempt to improve things. Thanks to everyone.
I have also triggered some fairly negative reactions. I take this response also as a positive sign, that my work is threatening enough to warrant a backlash. I have written an FAQ to answer some of the recurrent criticisms.
This might be a good time for a progress update on Subtext. I have decided to change direction somewhat. I was previously working on “getting factorial right” with new representations for conditionals, iteration, and higher-order functions, as described in the Future Work section of my OOPSLA submission. I now think I should shelve that and instead face the issue of I/O and mutable state. This nasty problem has been the bane of much programming language research, particularly leaving functional languages tied up in knots. It could be the critical issue that makes or breaks Subtext. My new goal is to show how to build a GUI in Subtext, and to do so while maintaining the principles of WYSIWYG and the unification of edit-time with run-time, just as with factorial. I haven’t figured out all the details yet, but if I can pull it off it would make an eye-opening demo, and also make Subtext dramatically more realistic and relevant.