Visual Programming is back: PopFly, Pipes, Scratch

The first true visual programming environment I used was IBM’s VisualAge Smalltalk. I liked it and thought it was a shame when IBM reverted to pure code-based development with Eclipse. Admittedly, complex applications got fairly confusing, with lines everywhere.

Now it seems visual programming is back. The other day Scratch hit the news, a cool visual programming environment for kids. I like the way that jigsaw-like shapes are used to indicate whether or not two blocks can be fitted together.

Yahoo has Pipes, drag-and-drop RSS feed combination and transformation.

Now here comes Microsoft PopFly, online visual programming for Silverlight. Is it programming? I think so:

Underneath the covers, blocks are just chunks of code that wrap complex operations, like retrieving data from a Web site or displaying an animated slideshow so that others can easily reuse that block.

PopFly looks interesting, easy to use and visually appealing, though I’ve not got an account yet. I’ve only watched the demo video.

Of course the visual bit only takes you so far. If you want to create your own blocks, or customize them, you have to write your own Javascript. I guess that will always be the case. It’s still good to see development being made more accessible for non-technical users.


3 thoughts on “Visual Programming is back: PopFly, Pipes, Scratch”

  1. A recent project – Rules – inspired by Scratch now has screencasts showing how to program a range of devices with a Scratch-like tile-based programming interface…

    Visit the Rules website here

    Given your interest in this area, it could be worth a look and welcome your feedback.

  2. Nothing can stop us from using Visual Programming Languages to Create Operating System,Programming Languages, System Applications,…..etc

    But we need powerful general purpose visual programming languages with good design & implementation
    The problem with visual programming languages is not the goal … the problem is our implementation + we need more ideas.

    You can look at (Programming Without Coding Technology [PWCT] – Free Open Source General Purpose Programming Language)

    Using this visual programming language [PWCT] you can create any software – no limits it’s general purpose

    This visual programming langauge used for creating the Supernova programming langauge (text based langauge) to prove that you can create any software using (PWCT) – no limits

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