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A Visual Approach to Programming

Satisfactory Essays
A Visual Approach to Programming

In 1984, researchers at Hiroshima University started developing the layout for what would be called visual programming languages. Currently, many programmers use textual languages, which make the user produce text (one-dimensional) which is translated into one long stream of information. The goal for visual languages was to "...bridge the chasm between high level programming and the human level" (Levialdi). The researchers wanted to create languages that could display data and programs two dimensionally and have the graphical interface look much like what would soon be a web page (McIntyre). These languages are designed to be simpler while being able to construct more complicated programs than its predecessors.

Some critics of visual languages state that so far no visual languages have been standardized or utilized to serve more general purposes. Some programmers believe "...most visual languages that have been used outside the research community have been targeted to very specific domains" (Citrin, para.1). Most visual languages are in fact used for specific purposes in the development industry. As compared to spoken or written languages, visual computer languages are extremely new. Spoken languages have been around for thousands of years, while visual computer languages are not even twenty years old. However, there are some upcoming conferences being devoted to developing standards for the next generation of visual computing environments. Even though these computer languages are relatively new, companies still decide to utilize them. IBM created a visual language called OpenDX, which is "...designed to allow users to visualize both observed and simulated data...and developers to quickly create programs along with interactive controls" (Thompson). Although this software is not meant for a wide audience, the visual programming community is already making usable visual languages and just needs time to grow and progress to further the reach of the language.

The other major criticism of using visual languages was from the advanced programmers. Many said that it would be difficult to relearn different programming strategies two-dimensionally. While learning most programming techniques require hard work, using two-dimensional programs can work a lot better for the company or group of programmers as a whole.

For many companies, the motto "time is money" is very accurate. Development time for programs is usually slim. An objective of visual programming environments is to help companies conserve money by cutting production time.