Babylonian-style Programming

Design and Implementation of an Integration of Live Examples Into General-purpose Source Code

David Rauch1, Patrick Rein2, Stefan Ramson3, Jens Lincke4, and Robert Hirschfeld5

The Art, Science, and Engineering of Programming, 2019, Vol. 3, Issue 3, Article 9

Submission date: 2018-09-27
Publication date: 2019-02-01
Full text: PDF


When working on a program, developers traditionally have to simulate the behavior of the abstract code in their heads until they can execute the application. Live programming aims to support the development and comprehension of programs by providing more immediate feedback on program behavior, but the divide between code and behavior often remains. The goal of example-based live programming is to remove this gap by allowing programmers to explore the actual behavior of their code during development. This is achieved by defining live examples for parts of the application.

The idea of live examples has been already addressed in other tools and environments. However, most of those solutions are limited to specific domains and are suitable only for small programs. Thus, we aim to extend the application of example-based live programming to more complex programs potentially spanning multiple modules.

We investigate existing solutions to derive a set of requirements for an integration of live examples into source code. Based on these requirements we propose a new approach to live examples and present a prototype in its support. We reproduce, discuss, and extend scenarios from related work to show the practicality of our approach in the context of larger, more complicated, and with that also more realistic scenarios. Also, we measure and evaluate the system response time of our prototypical implementation.

Our first results show that example-based live programming can provide more insights into the run-time behavior of parameterized code for non-trivial programs. They also reveal unsolved and new challenges affecting example-based live programming environments. In presenting this more general approach to example-based live programming, we hope to motivate further research into this area and to make practical solutions available.

  1., Hasso Plattner Institute, Germany

  2., Hasso Plattner Institute, Germany

  3., Hasso Plattner Institute, Germany

  4., Hasso Plattner Institute, University of Potsdam, Germany

  5., Hasso-Plattner-Institut (HPI), Germany