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5 points by zck 91 days ago | link | parent

I'm having a pretty hard time understanding what this is, and I think a large part of this is that claims are stated instead of proven or explained. I see that the author thinks this is the future, but "what this is is self-evidently better" seems to be the argument most put forward, without being backed up by examples.

Let's take the article "The flaw in Lisp" (http://breckyunits.com/the-flaw-in-lisp.html):

> In Lisp, which uses parantheses for structure and allows arbitrary whitespace, there are many ways to write your code, and not all of those ways arrange your source code into “geometric trees”. That is, if you connect the nodes of your program with lines, sometimes those lines will intersect or be coincident.

The presentation below^0 mainly seems to take as an axiom that tree-structured^1 languages are better. If you already believe tree-structured languages are better, then yes, Lisp is not as good.

But if you're not (yet) convinced? Ok, then that's just a property of languages that Lisp doesn't have. It also doesn't have the property that it requires semicolons at the end of the line, but by itself, that proof doesn't mean Lisp is worse than Lisp-with-semicolons-at-EOL. What about ETNs are better? Yes, if you draw lines from each node to its parent, they intersect -- but why do I care? Drawing lines like that is something I've never done. I assume your argument is something like "it's easier to understand code when it's clear", but I don't see you even state that argument, nevermind make a case for it.

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So, being the non-academic that I am, I want to go to see how the code works. I open http://ohayo.computer/, and the first thing presented to me is the Apple "The Crazy Ones" video. This is an extremely offputting message. Between that and the article submitted here (Programming is Now Two-Dimensional), I'm seeing far more self-promotion than argument. It's like listening to a professional wrestler cut a promo: "Yeaaaaah brother. What 'chu gonna do, when tree languages run wild on you", but when it comes to that wrestler getting into the ring, the wrestler is nowhere to be found.

And that aside, I can't even seem to run any code! After reading the README, I learn that there are two languages -- Flow and Fire. I'm not a data science guy, so I click on `fib.fire`. I see this: http://imgur.com/a/3sIxf. There's no connection of anything at all, just a dozen random blocks of noise. How do I actually run any code? I don't see any "run" buttons. The File menu has no "run" option. How do I see this work? Also, I have no idea how this is connected to tree-structured languages! There are no lines between things, as seems to be the motivating factor of this paradigm!

Looking at the "sneak peek" video (http://breckyunits.com/ohayo-sneak-peak.html), apparently there is some sort of source code that corresponds to what's shown. But unlike in the video, I can't click to drag around things. I can't see the source code. Why not?

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I really just want to see how these things work. I don't want to see unsupported claims. I want to be able to write some code, or modify existing code. Please don't make it so hard for me to understand what this is.

[0] I'm not trying to pick on the presentation for the sake of picking on it, but the pictures are extremely difficult to read, making it difficult to understand the argument. At least rotate the pictures so they're right-side-up. Scan them if you can, and do your best to write them with your best handwriting -- I have similarly bad handwriting, so I don't present people with handwritten documents if I can avoid it.

[1] There appear to be multiple terms for this. It's somewhat confusing, because the picture proofs talk about "pure tree languages", but other things talk about ETNs (Extends Tree Notation), or "geometric trees". I don't think "pure tree language" in the picture means anything different from "tree" in the text, but I'm not sure of that. It would be useful to pick one name for each concept and stick to it.



2 points by breck 91 days ago | link

Thanks zck!

I agree with every point you made and am working on fixing them.

> mainly seems to take as an axiom that tree-structured^1 languages are better.

Correct! And also correct that I haven't proven this to be the case yet. I'm heading in that direction and think by the end of week 1 of the announcement there should be more evidence in that regard. I just launched version 1.2 just now. In a Flow program, you can now add a ">3d" block, which can have a "content" property where you can add some ETN code and see it somewhat visualized in 3d. Rough version, but starting to hint at what's to come. Basically imagine a 100,000 line program, where you can visualize and manipulate the source (and AST!) in 3D, and it all runs blazing fast. That's where we are headed with this. I believe 2D/3D languages may be better because 1) it seems the constraints imposed by the criteria that source must map to physical dimensions helps avoid anti-patterns (but i don't have a proof yet on why) 2) our brains are wired to work in 3D. Although those are theoretical guesses. For me, 95% of why I believe they are better is because of my experience working with them the past few months (which I'm trying to bring that experience to others asap).

But yes. Agreed that I haven't proved this yet.

> I open http://ohayo.computer/, and the first thing presented to me is the Apple "The Crazy Ones" video. This is an extremely offputting message.

Haha, thanks for that feedback. Last week was a week with little sleep, and didn't have time to make a proper intro screencast, so put that up as a placeholder because I thought the "ones who see things differently" was apropos. That won't be up much longer. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

> I'm seeing far more self-promotion than argument

Agreed. I just do believe in the potential impact of ETNs, and truly believe if anything I'm underselling the impact they could have, and if I got hit by a bus before I could provide more evidence I wanted to make sure people took notice and continued where I left off. Low bus factor last week--but now that is much higher! Maybe once more evidence is out there I can revisit all those posts and tone them down.

> fib.fire

Another person emailed me and said it should start with "hello world", and not Fib. That's coming soon. Thanks for this additional feedback. Also, the Fire editing is brand new. It was very theoretical until last week. So the UX has a long way to go. I made some improvements this morning but still it's quite shitty. Working on it.

> How do I actually run any code?

Version 1.2 (today) introduces the shortcut "shift+b" to build program, which will show you the compiled Js output for Fire programs. You can also use "command+shift+b" to build and save to file.

> The File menu has no "run" option.

Great suggestion! Will likely add next version.

Also, another suggestion I got is to have a "Quick tips" that shows the top 5 things to do (like double click to add a node, ? for help, et cetera). Coming soon.

> source code that corresponds to what's shown

Shift+u. Again, great feedback. I'll add a File toggle and also a quick tip.

> I really just want to see how these things work. I don't want to see unsupported claims. I want to be able to write some code, or modify existing code. Please don't make it so hard for me to understand what this is.

Agreed! Thanks! I also made a lot of speed and test improvements this morning and will have project editing very soon.

> [0] I'm not trying to pick on the presentation for the sake of picking on it, but the pictures are extremely difficult to read, making it difficult to understand the argument. At least rotate the pictures so they're right-side-up. Scan them if you can, and do your best to write them with your best handwriting -- I have similarly bad handwriting, so I don't present people with handwritten documents if I can avoid it.

Haha, great points!

> [1] There appear to be multiple terms for this. It's somewhat confusing, because the picture proofs talk about "pure tree languages", but other things talk about ETNs (Extends Tree Notation), or "geometric trees". I don't think "pure tree language" in the picture means anything different from "tree" in the text, but I'm not sure of that. It would be useful to pick one name for each concept and stick to it.

Correct. I haven't found the correct mathematical term for it (I've searched graph, braid/knot, set, and some other theories). I bet there is one. If not, maybe I'll standardize on "Geometric Tree".

Thanks again for these comments. Super helpful!

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4 points by zck 91 days ago | link

Cool. I look forward to reading some new stuff about it. I'll just comment on some of the things here.

> Version 1.2 (today) introduces the shortcut "shift+b" to build program, which will show you the compiled Js output for Fire programs. You can also use "command+shift+b" to build and save to file.

This is interesting, but might actually work at cross-purposes to what you want to show. This presents it as "a graphical interface to write javascript", which isn't quite what you want. I want to _run_ the code, not just compile to js. (Obviously compiling to js and then running the js is fine, but don't make me do two steps when one is enough)

But for a run button, I'd think you want this to be as obvious as possible. So don't even bury it in a menu -- make a header with a giant "run" button. Or maybe not "giant", but somewhere that's displayed when you open the page.

> Another person emailed me and said it should start with "hello world", and not Fib. That's coming soon.

I feel like you want to have both. But yes, it's useful to have Hello World.

I do want to play around with this, so hopefully I can understand what it is soon.

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