Tangible Functional Programming: a modern marriage of usability and composability

Earlier this month I gave a tech talk at Google, entitled “Tangible Functional Programming: a modern marriage of usability and composability”. Thanks to Google folks, the talk is now up on YouTube. I showed a way make functional programming “tangible” and visual, rather than abstract and syntactic and, in doing so, to fulfill the original Unix vision of simple, composable apps.

The key is to keep an app’s interface and functionality combined and separable. Combined yields usability, and separable yields composability. This principle applies not only to GUI-style interfaces, but to textual IO as well, and it applies to both direct composition and syntactic composition. See the TV page for examples of the latter. The common practice of mixing IO with functionality inhibits composability whether in C or in Haskell.

Edit 2008-09-09: The technical/theoretical basis for this tech talk is in the paper Tangible Functional Programming.

“Tangible Functional Programming” — icfp version

I just submitted the camera-ready version of “Tangible Functional Programming”, for ICFP ’07. I’m happy with this version. It’s improved drastically since my first submission to ICFP ’06, thanks to many helpful comments. I’ve also been recreating the implementation on top of DeepArrow, Phooey, and TV, in preparation for a software release. It’s getting simpler, but it’s not as simple as I want.