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Visual Programming Codex

Despite the GUI going mainstream in the 80s, the programming community has largely opted to remain in the era of the terminal. Yet there have always been magnificent visual programming projects at the periphery. This repo exists to shine a light on these alternatives, see what costs and benefits they offer, and reflect on the work of people pushing for a future where programming leverages more of our senses and modalities.

  1. Implementations — Specific products, projects, or prototypes. Lots of images.
  2. Reflections — Talks, articles, and papers broadly about non-textual programming.
  3. Galleries — Collections of images of visual languages and related tools.
  4. Concepts — The broad range of ideas that visual languages draw on.
  5. Inspirations — Visual systems for things that only loosely resemble programming.
  6. Criticisms — Arguments against visual programming, and reflections on them.
  7. Communities — Places to talk amongst ourselves.
  8. Impressions — My 2¢

This is a perpetual work-in-progress, inspired by Shaun Lebron's History of Lisp Parens. It's small right now, but will grow and gain structure and substance over the coming years. If you know of anything that could or should be added, please do open an issue or pull request. (Personally, I haven't had much time or energy to update this recently — but I am capturing all the interesting VPLs I hear about as issues, so check those out if you're looking for more.)

If you're looking for ideas to implement in your own visual programming tool, you might enjoy my thoughts on this amazing, totally made up VPL.

If you'd like to discuss visual programming, DM me on Twitter or scroll down to the contact section on my website.

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Waypoints to the past and future of visual programming.

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