ANNOUNCE: Release of Vital, an interactive visual programming environment for Haskell

Graham Klyne GK at
Thu Nov 13 10:03:18 EST 2003

[Switching to haskell-cafe]

For "serious programming", I entirely agree.

But my view is that we are seeing some degree of programmability entering 
all sorts of everyday objects -- video recorders spring to mind as an early 
example -- and there's lots of work going on in the field of "ubiquitous 
computing".  Many of these pervasive devices may be fire-and-forget, but I 
suspect many will not be.  Graphical displays may be more common than full 
keyboards.  So how is the user to be presented with options to enter 
programming information?  I don't have any final answers here, but I do 
have an intuition that for many users, where the "programming" requirement 
is a simple but flexible composition of existing functions, that a 
graphical, self-documenting interface may be an appropriate response to the 
"video recorder programming hell" syndrome.

Some of my thoughts about this came from considering issues faced by a 
friend of mine who has recently wired his new home for "total data" 
(several kilometres of Cat5A cable in the loft!) -- it's all very well 
having all these intelligent devices around the home, but how to actually 
tell them what to do?  Opening a door may signal that a light should turned 
on, or an alarm should be set off -- how to describe the 
distinction?  (Assuming the owner is not an experienced programmer.)

Finally, as evidence for this view of user interfaces, I note that for 
tasks like computer system administration, graphical interfaces have pretty 
much taken over from the old command-line-and-text-file approach.  Even 
Linux systems have graphical front-ends for most of the common 
configuration, even though, for an experienced sysadmin, the text-based 
versions are generally quicker to set up and understand what's 
happenning.  In short, it's the occasional user, not the full-time expert, 
who may be better served by a non-textual approach.


At 23:56 12/11/03 +0100, Marcin 'Qrczak' Kowalczyk wrote:
>W li¶cie z ¶ro, 12-11-2003, godz. 11:06, Graham Klyne pisze:
> > I've sometimes thought that a functional language would be the ideal
> > platform to usher in a purely graphical style of programming;
>I don't understand why so many people talk about graphical programming,
>i.e. putting together functions, arguments, definitins etc. with the
>mouse instead of the keyboard, drawing arrows instead of naming etc.
>No wonder it didn't succeed. It would be much less convenient than
>typing text and less readable too.
>    __("<         Marcin Kowalczyk
>    \__/       qrczak at
>     ^^
>Haskell mailing list
>Haskell at

Graham Klyne
For email:

More information about the Haskell-Cafe mailing list