Monday, March 09, 2009

Back to softer thoughts...

I'm pretty burnt out. So, instead of hacking in my home lab, this past weekend I perused books. I grabbed some (mostly) math and programming books off of the shelf. It was both a reminder of some of the things I miss since I started doing exclusively embedded work and some of the things I don't miss.

What I don't miss is the plethora of general purpose programming languages that vie for my attention. What I do miss is the ability to express math concepts (especially geometry) in a high level manner. My lack of education in domain specific languages (specifically: math) is at fault here.

I think that my "general purpose" language exploration days are truly over. For general purpose programming I don't see what going beyond C and awk (or Tcl) gives me. Domain specific languages (DSLs) are interesting. For example, I use Dot (via Graphviz) for producing directed graphs all of the time. I use Scratch to work out simple animation/graphics oriented ideas (but, curse you Scratch: no parametization or recursion yet!) and I use it to teach kids how to program.

Right now, my son is interested in going beyond Scratch, so we may start playing with GameMaker (a commercial game building tool). That sounds like a DSL to me.

I've also been toying with doing a DSL in awk that will render graphic primitives (to some screen viewer/plotter via pipes) so I can work through Turtle Geometry without having to find/re-learn some Logo variant.

For work I am using awk to do some quick power consumption calculations. Excel is what we normally use, but I'd like to see the math all in one view (not by clicking on cells).

I am considering doing a short DSL in awk to coordinate between Dot/Graphviz state machines and actual code. I'd like to keep the Dot state machine up to date as the code evolves.

For now, I am exploring these softer thoughts...

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