The Future of Programming

06 August 2013

I finally watched the latest Brett Victor's conference: The Future Of Programming. I highly recommend to check everything he has done. You will not loose your time.

One of the moments I liked the best is when Brett Victor is talking about smalltalk and its browser view. This idea, that is fairly old now, reminds me of some initiatives like Brackets or Light Table. These editors are still using text files to manage code, but they add inline code browsing or live feedback, amongst others. It is funny to see that we had to wait 40 years to see that happens.

Which reminds me of the conclusion of Brett Victor: you have to realize that you do not know what you are doing in order to find new way of doing things.

In the programming field, we have improved our tools, but globally, we are still doing the same thing: coding with text files. That's sad.

A brief aside

A theme that comes in almost all the Brett Victor's talks is live feedback. Just watch Inventing on Principle.

I have used Interface Builder a lot recently — a software to create interface for iOS apps —, and even if this tool is one of the best of its kind (I look at you Android, with your stupid XML UI files), it is not a good one for all that.

It gives me a partial representation of my interface: I cannot do everything with it. I cannot see animations. I cannot see particles. I cannot test the physic (and physic is clearly one of the key points of the new iOS 7 interface). I loose a lot of time checking that what I have done in code and Interface Builder are really what I want. It is tedious. It is slow.

We need better tools to create UI — we need feedback and interactivity directly within the creative process.