Programming with Comics


Hey so I came across this amazing prototype yesterday, Programming with Comics… hehe, OK it’s mine :slight_smile: but anyway, I thought it might be interesting to discuss.

I’ll start off by saying I think there are a lot of really interesting parts to the prototype, but there are also some major deficiencies. As @pat and I discussed long ago, the interface is kind of indirect: you’re manipulating the instructions, but not directly manipulating the graphic itself (this is done better in both Vogo and Bret Victor’s Substroke environment).

The environment as a whole is kind of cumbersome to actually program with (drawing a triangle, for example, can end up being like 9 panels, unless you’re smart about looping) because there aren’t a lot of methods of abstraction / control flow.

Additionally, as mentioned in the essay, Logo was chosen as a main language inspiration mostly because of its relatively simple semantics (move, rotate, repeat), not because I think it’s a particularly great model for programming (at least not in general).

But I do think there are some interesting bits to the environment (as I pointed out in the essay). Seeing a program feels really neat to me, at least as a good first step for exploring systems. Also, the environment encourages natural language symbol names (you can use spaces, punctuation, whatever) and lets you change them any time you want. The environment tries to stay as concrete as possible with “example” values, etc.

Anyway, I’m curious to know what everyone thinks (both good and bad!) and I’m happy to answer any questions you may have about it.