A Better Way To Program
Written by Alex Armstrong   
Saturday, 10 March 2012

This video will change the way you think about programming.  The argument is clear and impressive - it suggest that we really are building programs with one hand tied behind our backs. After you have watched the video you will want the tools demonstrated.

Update:

See Light Table - a Realization of a New Way to Code

 

We often focus on programming languages and think that we need a better language to program better. Bret Victor gave a talk that demonstrated that this is probably only a tiny part of the problem. The key is probably interactivity. Don't wait for a compile to complete to see what effect your code has on things - if you can see it in real time then programming becomes much easier. Currently we are programming with one arm tied behind our backs because the tools that we use separate us from what we write and what happens.

Interactivity makes code understandable.

Moving on, the next idea is that instead of reading code and understanding it, seeing what the code does is understanding it. Programmers can only understand their code by pretending to be computers and running it in their heads. As this video shows, this is increadibly inefficient and, as we generally have a computer in front of us, why not use it to help us understand the code?

 

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All of this is explained and demonstrated in this long (1 hour) video. It also has the problem that it starts very slowly and is occasionally self indulgent. But, as they say, if you watch just one video this year make it this one.

It eventually gets going and it isn't only about game programming at about 18 mins in you will find the same ideas applied to more abstract coding and even to other engineering disciplines.

There are some soco-political ideas explained along the way - feel free to disagree with them - but don't ignore the important technical points being made.

 

      

The talk was given at CUSEC 2012 (The Canadian University Software Engineering Conference)

Bret Victor is clearly someone to keep an eye on.  Have a look at his web site for even more really interesting ideas. 

More Information

2012.cusec.net

Bret Victor's web site: worrydream.com

 

 

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