43 episodios

The Future of Coding is a podcast and open-source research project by Steve Krouse towards democratizing computation and building the next generation of software development interfaces. Learn more at http://futureofcoding.org

Future of Coding Steve Krouse

    • Tecnología

The Future of Coding is a podcast and open-source research project by Steve Krouse towards democratizing computation and building the next generation of software development interfaces. Learn more at http://futureofcoding.org

    - Unveiling Dark: Ellen Chisa & Paul Biggar

    - Unveiling Dark: Ellen Chisa & Paul Biggar

    Last Monday, Ellen Chisa and Paul Biggar unveiled Dark, a new web-based programming environment for creating backend web services. In these conversations, first with Ellen and then with Paul, we discuss how they met, conceived of the idea, iterated on the product, and what their long-term vision is for the product.

    Dark is a web-based, structured editor with a data store built-in. It's code has a functional programming feel to it, but it also embraces what they call "functional/imperative". For example, their "error rail" allows programmers to defer handling nil-cases, much like a dynamically-typed language, but still keeps track of their existence in a monadic structure, like a statically-typed language, but without users having to learn anything about monads!

    Paul often brings the discussion of Dark back to Fred Brook's distinction in _No Silver Bullet_ between essential and accidental complexity. I had fun in this interview diving into the Aristotelian roots of that distinction. We also debated the meaning of the terms "no-code" and "low-code", and whether either could be applied to Dark.

    Dark removes accidental complexity around infrastructure and deployment. There is no separate step to deploy code in Dark. It's "deployless". Every single change to a Dark codebase is instantly (in 50ms, the time it takes to get your incremental change to the server) deployed to production servers. Of course this doesn't mean that every change you make is instantly deployed to _users_, but simply put on production servers behind a feature flag _ready_ to be rolled out at your discretion. Deployment, getting code running locally to run in production, is eliminated because all code is running on Dark's platform at all times. What remains is simply choosing when to release that code to users.

    One of my favorite parts of Dark is how readable its editor makes functional programming, which I typically find intimidating and difficult to parse. The Dark editor saves all past HTTP requests to all routes, and then uses those values to provide "live data" for every intermediate expression in that route. A dense section of code becomes totally comprehensible by clicking through each expression and seeing actual past values that have inhabited that expression. It combines of the best parts of a debugger and sprinkled console.log statements, but without the downsides of either.

    I'm glad that we had the opportunity in this conversation to dwell on some of the trade-offs of using Dark. Paul and Ellen are well aware of the risks customers face by moving their applications onto the Dark platform, and hope to alleviate those risks as much as possible. For example, they are looking into creating a legal structure that will make Dark open-source in the event that Dark shuts down.

    Paul Biggar is best-known in the Valley for co-founding CircleCI, a tool for continuous integration and deployment. At heart, he's a compilers nerd: he got a PhD in compilers, worked on the JavaScript compiler at Mozilla, built CircleCI which is a compiler for deployment, and is now building Dark, a programming language, environment, and infrastructure compiler.

    Ellen Chisa is passionate about helping people make things. She worked at Microsoft on Office Mobile, at Kickstarter, and started a company that built tools for travel agents, Lola.

    The full transcript for this episode was sponsored by repl.it and can be found at: https://futureofcoding.org/episodes/043#full-transcript

    • 2 h 27 min
    #42 - Blurring the Line Between User and Programmer: Lane Shackleton

    #42 - Blurring the Line Between User and Programmer: Lane Shackleton

    "The world's been divided into people who can make software, and the people who use software all day, and basically we think that that paradigm is not a good one. It feels kind of broken," says Lane Shackleton, Head of Product at Coda, where they are building a new kind of document that blurs the line between users and programmers. 

    A Coda document starts out looking like a familiar online document, a lot like Google Docs. There's a blinking cursor, you can bold and italicize text, add images, and collaboratively edit it alongside others. But a Coda table is much more powerful than a traditional table that you'd find in a typical word processor. Like a spreadsheet, the a Coda table allows you to create complex relationship between pieces of data via a formula language. Upon closer examination, the Coda table is more structured than spreadsheets and more closely resembles a friendly relational database, like Airtable.

    If you're familiar with Notion, another augmented document medium, this all may sound familiar. Coda differentiates itself in a few ways. For one, it allows users to build complex (but no-code) trigger-based workflows from within the tool, such as when a table is modified or a button is pressed. For another, Coda really sells itself as an app-builder, in that teams can use Coda documents on their phones as native mobile apps. For example, a bike shop can have its employees easily swipe and snap a photo of inventory directly into a Coda table simply by creating a photo column in that table. Coda takes care of converting that column into an interface that automatically pulls up the camera on mobile.

    Coda was inspired by the founders' experience at YouTube, where the company "ran on spreadsheets," but now they dream of building a medium that fundamentally changes how people see themselves, as creators instead of merely as consumers, and reshapes the way teams, communities, and even families collaborate and function. It's a big vision, and Coda has a long way to go.

    This episode was sponsored by Replit. The transcript can be found here: https://futureofcoding.org/episodes/041#transcript

    • 1h 40 min
    #41 - The Aesthetics of Programming Tools: Jack Rusher

    #41 - The Aesthetics of Programming Tools: Jack Rusher

    Ivan Reese guest hosts.

    I've been intimidated by Jack Rusher from the first blush. I mean, he's wearing a high-collared fur coat and black sunglasses in his Twitter pic, and his bio includes "Bell Labs Researcher". So when tasked with choosing a subject for my first interview, I immediately reached out to him, leaning in to my nervousness. His reply included the detail that he's "generally hostile to the form" of podcasting. Terrifying.

    When we talked, it was about Lisp — several flavours of Scheme and Racket, Common Lisp, Lisp machines, Black, Clojure, parens of all stripes. It was also about aesthetics, and graphic design, the relative ignorance of typical programming tools to the capability of the visual cortex, and how to better tap it. This podcast's streak of discussions about Coq, miniKanren, TLA+, and Alloy continues, with the addition of QuickCheck and the like. Jack presents his work on a literate editor for Clojure called Maria.cloud, an environment that makes a number of unusual and interesting choices both in the design and implementation, reaching for an ideal blend of features that afford both instant beginner enthusiasm and unrestricted expert use. We pay our respects to the phenomenal red carpet that video games roll out to new players, inviting them in to the model and mechanics of the game with an apparent ease and apt ability that should be the envy of programming toolsmiths like us. The show ends with Jack sharing an excellent collection of plugs, ranging from academic papers by the relatively obscure Stéphane Conversy, to the aesthetically-lush programming tools pouring out of Hundredrabbits's Devine Lu Linvega.

    I am no longer terrified of Jack's persona. Rather, I am now humbled by his towering expertise and the wildly varied accomplishments of his career, and it was a thrill to get to tour them in this interview. Best quote of the show: "A kind of grotesque capitulation to sameness." Damn, Jack!


    Jack Rusher is our esteemed guest. He is on Twitter, Instagram, and SoundCloud. Applied Science is his consultancy, and Maria.cloud is their beautifully designed literate Clojure editor.

    Ivan Reese hosts. He's on Twitter, works on educational media, is making a visual programming tool, and plays 100 instruments — badly. He started life with HyperCard and now loves Max/MSP.

    Repl.it is our Sponsor. Email jobs@repl.it if you'd like to work on the future of coding.

    Complex Event Processing is a bit of technology Jack helped commercialize.

    ClojureVerse is where a discussion of Luna led to the Visual Programming Codex, based on the History of Lisp Parens by Shaun Lebron.

    QuickCheck, miniKanren, Datalog, Black Scheme, and Oleg Kiselyov are touched on. Out of the Tar Pit has its mandatory mention, and then Chez Scheme saves the day.

    I wanted to link to the Maru project but the author, Ian Piumata's website seems to be down and I could find no other canonical reference. There's some discussion on Hacker News and such. If you know of a good link, I'd love a PR.

    Scheme Bricks and Media Molecule's Dreams are interesting touchstones on the road to future visual programming languages. Ivan has an affinity for Pure Data and Max/MSP and vvvv.

    When talking about tools for beginners versus experts, Rich Hickey's Design, Composition, and Performance is invoked — and poor Shostakovich.

    Jack's main is Maria.cloud, named in honour of Maria Montessori. SICP gets a nod. Maria has proven useful at Clojure Bridge. Matt Hubert [Twitter] created the Cells abstraction that Maria was eventually built atop — it's similar to ObservableHQ.

    Video games like Steel Battalion, The Witness, and Dead Space have strong opinions about how much, or how little, visual interface to expose to the player. Complex 3D tools like Maya and 3D Studio Max are GUI inspirations for Ivan, where Jack and Matt prefer simplicity, so much

    • 1h 40 min
    #40 - Joining Logic, Relational, and Functional Programming: Michael Arntzenius

    #40 - Joining Logic, Relational, and Functional Programming: Michael Arntzenius

    This episode explores the intersections between various flavors of math and programming, and the ways in which they can be mixed, matched, and combined. Michael Arntzenius, "rntz" for short, is a PhD student at the University of Birmingham building a programming language that combines some of the best features of logic, relational, and functional programming. The goal of the project is "to find a sweet spot of something that is more powerful than Datalog, but still constrained enough that we can apply existing optimizations to it and imitate what has been done in the database community and the Datalog community." The challenge is combining the key part of Datalog (simple relational computations without worrying too much underlying representations) and of functional programming (being able to abstract out repeated patterns) in a way that is reasonably performant.

    This is a wide-ranging conversation including: Lisp macros, FRP, Eve, miniKanren, decidability, computability, higher-order logics and their correspondence to higher-order types, lattices, partial orders, avoiding logical paradoxes by disallowing negation (or requiring monotonicity) in self reference (or recursion), modal logic, CRDTS (which are semi-lattices), and the place for formalism is programming. This was a great opportunity for me to brush up on (or learn for the first time) some useful mathematical and type theory key words. Hope you get a lot out of it as well -- enjoy!

    The transcript for this episode was sponsored by Repl.it and can be found at https://futureofcoding.org/episodes/040#full-transcript

    • 1h 53 min
    #39 - Mathematical Foundations for the Activity of Programming: Cyrus Omar

    #39 - Mathematical Foundations for the Activity of Programming: Cyrus Omar

    Usually when we think of mathematics and programming languages, we think of tedious, didactic proofs that have nothing to do with our day to day experience of programming. And when we think of developer tools, we picture the practical, imperfect tools we use every day: text editors, build systems, libraries, etc. Cyrus Omar is new computer science professor at the University of Michigan bridging these disciplines by creating the foundations to precisely reason about the experience of programming.

    We open the conversation with how Cyrus got his start in computational biology, but how his dissatisfaction with the tooling led him to eventually to PL theory. At the time of this conversation Cyrus was interviewing for tenure-track positions, so we discussed the pros and cons of getting a PhD, being a post doc, and finding a job in academia. (He recently accepted a job at University of Michigan.) I enjoyed riffing with him on new media or platforms to accelerate science instead of the "dead tree of knowledge", including Cyrus's vision for a "computational Wikipedia" built on top of Hazel. Ultimately Cyrus shares the vision of democratizing computation, and we talked about how he imagines extending the Hazel project to be able to embed GUIs inside Hazel expressions, which can in turn contain arbitrary Hazel expressions or other GUIs.

    I loved our conversation about some of the classic touch points for improving programming - projectional editors, feedback loops, end user programming - but from a more academic perspective then usual. Hope you enjoy as well!

    Transcript at futureofcoding.org/episodes/039#transcript, provided by Replit. 

    • 2 h 13 min
    #38 - The Case for Formal Methods: Hillel Wayne

    #38 - The Case for Formal Methods: Hillel Wayne

    Hillel Wayne is a technical writer and consultant on a variety of formal methods, including TLA+ and Alloy. In this episode, Hillel gives a whirlwind tour of the 4 main flavors of formal methods, and explains which are practical today and which we may have to wait patiently for. The episode begins with a very silly joke from Steve (about a radioactive Leslie Lamport) and if you make it to the end you're in store for a few fun tales from Twitter.


    • 1h 33 min

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