Past Meetup

Jonathan Schuster on Programmatic and Direct Manipulation, Together at Last

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Have you ever wished GUI tools for building visuals like PowerPoint and Illustrator had a more programming-like interface for making similar images rather than copying, pasting, and tweaking all the time? Have you ever wished programmatic systems like LaTeX and Processing.js allowed you to just click and drag on items in the output to change the result, rather than going through an edit-compile-run cycle every time? In some of the latest research, you can have both!

In this talk, Jon Schuster will discuss "Programmatic and Direct Manipulation, Together at Last" [1] from this year's PLDI (Conference on Programming Language Design and Implementation). The paper proposes a method to automatically edit an SVG-generating program to match the changes made by dragging components of the resulting image around the canvas, while still allowing the developer to edit the code directly. A prototype is available online [2], so expect interactive demos!

A shorter position paper [3] that discusses the overall goal and strategy from a higher-level is also available.

Bio: Jon Schuster is a PhD student at Northeastern University studying techniques for reasoning about programming with actors, as in Erlang and Scala's Akka framework. A former software developer, he hopes to soon return to industry and work on bringing brilliant ideas from academia into the real world.