Computer Laboratory

Technical reports

End-user programming in multiple languages

Rob Hague

October 2005, 122 pages

This technical report is based on a dissertation submitted July 2004 by the author for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy to the University of Cambridge, Fitzwilliam College.

Abstract

Advances in user interface technology have removed the need for the majority of users to program, but they do not allow the automation of repetitive or indirect tasks. End-user programming facilities solve this problem without requiring users to learn and use a conventional programming language, but must be tailored to specific types of end user. In situations where the user population is particularly diverse, this presents a problem.

In addition, studies have shown that the performance of tasks based on the manipulation and interpretation of data depends on the way in which the data is represented. Different representations may facilitate different tasks, and there is not necessarily a single, optimal representation that is best for all tasks. In many cases, the choice of representation is also constrained by other factors, such as display size. It would be advantageous for an end-user programming system to provide multiple, interchangeable representations of programs.

This dissertation describes an architecture for providing end-user programming facilities in the networked home, a context with a diverse user population, and a wide variety of input and output devices. The Media Cubes language, a novel end-user programming language, is introduced as the context that lead to the development of the architecture. A framework for translation between languages via a common intermediate form is then described, with particular attention paid to the requirements of mappings between languages and the intermediate form. The implementation of Lingua Franca, a system realizing this framework in the given context, is described.

Finally, the system is evaluated by considering several end-user programming languages implemented within this system. It is concluded that translation between programming languages, via a common intermediate form, is viable for systems within a limited domain, and the wider applicability of the technique is discussed.

Full text

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BibTeX record

@TechReport{UCAM-CL-TR-651,
  author =	 {Hague, Rob},
  title = 	 {{End-user programming in multiple languages}},
  year = 	 2005,
  month = 	 oct,
  url = 	 {http://www.cl.cam.ac.uk/techreports/UCAM-CL-TR-651.pdf},
  institution =  {University of Cambridge, Computer Laboratory},
  number = 	 {UCAM-CL-TR-651}
}