Responsive programming | Hackaday



Every once in a while a research project comes up that has the potential to totally revolutionize computing and what it even means to interact with a system. The project, is the result of [Bret Victor]the research path of over the years, examining various aspects of human-machine interaction and what it even means to think like a human.

One of the overhead projectors attached to a realbox
In Realtalk, paper is your programming medium

Dynamicland is an instantiation of a Real conversation ecosystem, deployed in an entire building. Tables are used as computing surfaces, with physical objects such as pieces of paper, notebooks, anything that can be read by any of the aerial cameras, becoming the program listing, as well as the user interface. The camera is associated with a projector, the real hardware being connected to “Realboxes” which are Linux machines running Realtalk software. Separate Realboxes (and other hardware such as a Raspberry Pi, running Realtalk) are all federated using the Realtalk protocol, which enables communication from hardware to the ceiling, to any other on the desk, as well as to other desks and computer surfaces.

Realtalk itself is described as an environment for creating and using compute media. The Realtalk system provides language extension to Lua. Together they form a domain specific language. Realtalk is also a kind of reagent database, which means that the focus is on the flow of data and the connections between the data-producing elements and the data-consuming elements. For a little more explanation on how reactive programming can be used with modern relational databases, read this article on the subject.

For a good overview of how this works in practice, from a programming standpoint, check out [Omar Rizwan]his article “Géokit” project. Another interesting read is the book by [Andrés Cuervo.]

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