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Ask Slashdot: Why Are We Still Writing Text-Based Code? 876

First time accepted submitter Rasberry Jello writes "I consider myself someone who 'gets code,' but I'm not a programmer. I enjoy thinking through algorithms and writing basic scripts, but I get bogged down in more complex code. Maybe I lack patience, but really, why are we still writing text based code? Shouldn't there be a simpler, more robust way to translate an algorithm into something a computer can understand? One that's language agnostic and without all the cryptic jargon? It seems we're still only one layer of abstraction from assembly code. Why have graphical code generators that could seemingly open coding to the masses gone nowhere? At a minimum wouldn't that eliminate time dealing with syntax errors? OK Slashdot, stop my incessant questions and tell me what I'm missing." Of interest on this topic, a thoughtful look at some of the ways that visual programming is often talked about.
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Ask Slashdot: Why Are We Still Writing Text-Based Code?

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  • by Moblaster ( 521614 ) on Friday February 07, 2014 @09:04PM (#46191783)
    Well, Grasshopper, or Unschooled Acolyte, or whatever your title of choice may be...

    You did not hear this from me.

    But most developers belong to the Church of Pain and we pride ourselves on our arcane talents, strange cryptic mumblings and most of all, the rewards due the High Priesthood to which we strive to belong.

    Let me put it bluntly. Some of this very complicated logic is complicated because it's very complicated. And pretty little tools would do both the complexity and us injustice, as high priests or priests-in-training of these magical codes.

    One day we will embrace simple graphical tools. But only when we grow bored and decide to move on to higher pursuits of symbolic reasoning; then and not a moment before will we leave you to play in the heretofore unimaginable sandbox of graphical programming tools. Or maybe we'll just design some special programs that can program on our behalf instead, and you can blurt out a few human-friendly (shiver) incantations, and watch them interpret and build your most likely imprecise instructions into most likely unworkable derivative codes. Or you can just take up LOGO like they told you to when you were but a school child in the... normal classes.

    Does that answer your impertinent question?
  • Sure thing (Score:5, Funny)

    by Tough Love ( 215404 ) on Friday February 07, 2014 @09:06PM (#46191795)

    Sure, and similarly, laws should not be written down in legal language, they should be distributed in comic book form.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 07, 2014 @09:07PM (#46191815)

    Does APL [] suffice?

  • by transporter_ii ( 986545 ) on Friday February 07, 2014 @09:09PM (#46191839) Homepage

    And why should you change if what you had worked great. I'm not against change, just as long as it is change for the better. If they came out with some new snazzy looking way to write code, but everyone said it sucks...but the old way worked just fine...then freaking stick with the old way. Unless you just don't care about actually making writing code better. Now who in their right mind would want to change something just to make it worse?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 07, 2014 @09:30PM (#46192037)
    ChineseScript? None that I remember, but there is SumatraScrip...or HawaiiScript? Maybe JavaScript? (I don't remember)
  • by Darinbob ( 1142669 ) on Friday February 07, 2014 @09:55PM (#46192227)

    Perhaps the original question should have been asked in a purely graphical way instead of using archaic textual means.

  • by abhi_beckert ( 785219 ) on Friday February 07, 2014 @10:13PM (#46192345)

    A picture is worth a thousand words.

    A thousand pictures flipping past at 24 frames per second is worth ten words.

  • by lgw ( 121541 ) on Friday February 07, 2014 @10:16PM (#46192383) Journal


  • by Darinbob ( 1142669 ) on Friday February 07, 2014 @10:21PM (#46192423)

    But if you have such a tool, you still have to find it. I can type ifconfig faster than you can find the tool (and of course, ifconfig is superior to ipconfig but that's another story).

    Now is the time when someone says "but I just pin it to the taskbar so it's easy to find". Then someone else responds "a real power user would use Windows 8 and just start typing out I P C O until the program popped up and you could click on it." Then someone else would say "I'm on a Mac you ignorant lout." And someone else would say "I hate this BETA!"

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 07, 2014 @10:36PM (#46192509)

    If you have to understand the concepts anyways, why is text worse than a graphical set up? You can't really avoid learning syntax this way if you want to write anything actually complicated.

    Also, fuck beta.

    For that matter (and it really does matter), why is Slashdot still text based? I mean, my 2-year-old daughter enjoys looking at pictures on an iPad. So why not make Slashdot picutre based only, to open it up more to the masses (who often have the intellectual capacity of a 2-year-old anyway)? You could start by having 42% of visitors arbitrarily enter this new picture only mode which would have the second letter of the Greek alphabet (I love Greek!), and an embedded picutre that everyone associates with slashdot (some .cx domain or something). I'm blanking on the second step here, but I promise you, we will PROFIT!

  • by Rufty ( 37223 ) on Friday February 07, 2014 @10:38PM (#46192523) Homepage
  • by unitron ( 5733 ) on Friday February 07, 2014 @11:18PM (#46192789) Homepage Journal

    " Why, even the Cray Supercomputer would have been astounding in its day if AND, OR and NOT weren't the only gates we had to build with."

    Do you know how hard it was to get the individual components and materials to build MAYBE gates, and how tight the tolerances had to be?

    Doc Brown only needed one flux capacitor, those things each needed at least a dozen.

    And you couldn't just take a MAYBE gate and slap an inverter on it to get an NMAYBE, you had to turn the whole design inside out, and the XMAYBE only existed on paper, because it would have taken the equivalent of 3 Manhattan projects and a quarter of the GNP of the entire Western Hemisphere just to produce a working prototype.

  • by keysdisease ( 1093663 ) on Friday February 07, 2014 @11:21PM (#46192801)
    As a gaijin I had he same problem with kanji. Do you spell that with a house or a tree?
  • by unitron ( 5733 ) on Friday February 07, 2014 @11:23PM (#46192809) Homepage Journal

    "... but a good speaker can't spee 2 words per second..."

    You never heard me back in the day when I had to cram 90 to 120 seconds worth of furniture store copy into a 60 second spot.

  • by LifesABeach ( 234436 ) on Saturday February 08, 2014 @01:05AM (#46193231) Homepage
    "I consider myself someone who 'gets code,' "

    I think I spotted your initial error. Would you like cheese with that wine?
  • by tragedy ( 27079 ) on Saturday February 08, 2014 @03:16AM (#46193643)

    Kanji seem like an awesome idea at first. You make a picture of the sun, and voila, you have the sun! And then a picture of the moon, and you have that idea. Moonlight? Combine kanji for moon plus kanji for light and you probably have moonlight!

    Awesome right? Yeah it's just fucking great until you realize you have to start making 30 strokes for one word, and that small pics start looking like each other, and that unless you know that very specific kanji, you have no clue how to write it out. And unlike the english alphabet which has 26 letters and once you learn them and combination you can sound out most words, you have to memorize thousands of kanji and even more kanji combinations or you'll get hung up reading highschool level newspapers.

    You forgot about Kanji dictionaries. Want to look something up, just count the strokes. It's easy, as long as you've spent years practicing forming the strokes in the first place. If not, it's a bit of a wild guess what constitutes one or two or three strokes. But hey, once you've counted the strokes, you just have to jump to the section of the dictionary for characters with that many strokes then look through a few thousand characters until you see one that matches. Piece of cake!

FORTRAN is the language of Powerful Computers. -- Steven Feiner