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Re: Future of FBP

by toma (Vicar)
on Mar 03, 2002 at 07:22 UTC ( #148954=note: print w/ replies, xml ) Need Help??


in reply to Future of FBP

Agilent Technologies sells a program called VEE that implements flow-based programming. Many non-programmers like it. Experienced programmers tend to prefer to write code. It is easy to draw a bowl of spaghetti!

The underlying implementation of VEE looks like LISP. If the underlying implementation was XML, it would be more stylish.

Circuit designers typically use flow-based design in the form of schematics. When circuit complexity gets high, schematics become problematic. The electronics industry solved this problem by converting almost all complex digital designs to Verilog or VHDL, which is code instead of flow.

Dominus tought a course in regular expressions that used flow-based diagrams to show flow in a regex. I thought it was helpful and intuitive. It would be nice to make such a tool for designing and documenting perl regexes, perhaps taking advantage of automatic graph layout with GraphViz.

Update By "underlying implementation," I mean that the program that does the work behind the scenes of the UI appears to be written in LISP. I surmised this because if you look at a VEE program file, it looks like LISP code.

Flow based diagrams help with visualization, but they do not work with large problems. Eventually the diagrams become too complex to see on the screen or print out. Hierarchical diagrams help with this, but do not solve the problem as well as a well-designed textual description. This is not an intuitive result. It was discovered when the diagrams became very large, such as happened when integrated circuit designs reached about 1_000_000 transistors.

It should work perfectly the first time! - toma


Comment on Re: Future of FBP
Re: Re: Future of FBP
by jpm (Novice) on Mar 06, 2002 at 02:20 UTC
    I'm sort of glad I didn't see VEE before building my picture-drawing tool - I would have given up before I started! But I needed a way to diagram FBP networks - I am very visual, although I have known some programmers who are not...

    I don't understand the distinction between code and diagrams: you can code FBP networks without drawing pictures, but I wouldn't be able to visualize them. A chap I know built a network of 200 nodes using stepwise decomposition and never once drew a picture! I can't do that, but it worked for him!

    I also don't understand what is meant by "underlying implementation". You can encode your network in XML-style, and in fact we did this on a project I worked on, but basically it's just a list of connections, so I don't see where it matters much what notation you use... Maybe I'm missing something?

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