Archive for November 30, 2009

Jared Polis speaks on behalf of CS Education

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November 30, 2009 at 10:02 pm Leave a comment

Microsoft’s top developers prefer old-school coding methods

While visual programming can be easier to learn and can help make developers more productive, it’s also “easier to delude yourself,” said Butler Lampson, a technical fellow at Microsoft. For instance, “no one can ever tell you what a UML diagram means.”

via Microsoft’s top developers prefer old-school coding methods.

An interesting article about a panel of Microsoft distinguished engineers mostly whumping on “visual programming,” which is never defined, and seems to mean everything from drawing buttons in GUI layout to drag-and-drop programming.  Maybe the engineers also said positive things about visual programming, but the author decided to only emphasize the negative.

Butler Lampson had the most enlightened comments (in the sense of being more balanced than most of the others).  The above does reflect what we see in the research literature.  It may be that visual programming is easier to get started with (see Hundhausen’s TOCHI article), but it’s no easier to understand or debug (as Petre, Green, and Moher showed in their studies).  Having taught UML for years, I do appreciate his comment that “no one can ever tell you what a UML diagram means.”  The interesting psychological question for me is, why do we “delude ourselves” (as Lampson puts it)?  Why do we believe that visual programming is a silver bullet?  Maybe because there is a better way there, but we haven’t found it yet?  Or is it an illusion?



November 30, 2009 at 1:01 pm 4 comments

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