Friday, November 5, 2010

Programming Through a ViewFinder

Last night I attended a Chris Trapper concert in the backyard of Brian Pitoniak, one of the best uniPaaS pitchmen I know. Trapper’s lyrics are poetic but accessible, his acoustic guitar sounds like three people are playing it and his singing lives up to the old cliché: "his voice is his instrument" as he moves between expressive highs and lows.

During the first encore he performed Ocean View. Leading into the song he explained that it was inspired by an experience at a Fourth of July fireworks show. He was on a friend’s deck overlooking the water and closer to the fireworks than he had ever been before. The light reflecting on the water was an experience of a lifetime. But he noticed another man with a video camera filming the entire fireworks show from start to finish. This other man watched the whole show through a viewfinder so that he could “relive an experience he never really had in the first place.”

For some reason this reminded me for a fleeting moment of my article on The Futility of Coding where I discussed Don Norman’s book The Design of Everyday Things which suggests that the principles of good design that you need are 1) a logically consistent model, 2) ability to see what you are doing, and 3) clear feedback between actions and reactions in a manner that provides continuous feedback. The man videotaping the fireworks failed on all three counts in designing his own experience. Watching fireworks through a video camera lacks logical consistency, it impedes your ability to see what you are doing and it breaks the feedback loop between you and the experience.

The situation is much worse for traditional computer programmers. You type text into an editor all day long in the hope that someday you will get to experience the software you are creating. There is no immediate connection between the creative process and the created experience when you use standard methods of line-by-line programming. I guess this is true of a lot of human endeavors, you can’t build a house and live in the house at the same time. I guess that’s the really cool thing about live music: the moment of creation and the moment of experience are completely synchronous.

So uniPaaS is a lot closer to a live music performance when it comes to computer programming. In uniPaaS Studio you can run your program at anytime and see it working. There is no intermediate compile, link and load nonsense. Developing in uniPaaS is a pseudo-live experience, not quite synchronous but certainly not without a very strong and instantly accessible feedback loop. Some call this iterative software development and an application platform like uniPaaS is ideal for agile development methods.

So if you want to try it out just sign up for the uniPaaS Jet download. If you want to buy it, call Brian Pitoniak. I’m sure he can set you up. (949) 250-1718 ext. 232.

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