Request for comments: engineering programming

Hey all. This post is directed at anyone who does
scientific/engineering programming (I imagine that there are a lot of
die-hard FORTRAN users in this group). I have a concept for a new
programming editor and am trying to determine if there is any interest
in it or if it has any commercial viability. Executive summary: I
envision a FORTRAN (or C, etc.) editor that has WSYISWG equation
displays. Things like greek letters, fractions, square roots, etc. can
all be displayed directly in mathematical notation and the program will
still compile with your existing FORTRAN compiler. If this sounds
interesting to you, check out
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Before I get flamed: no, I am not selling anything. I don't even have
a product to sell yet. I'm just trying to gauge interest and see if it
would be best to purse this idea as a commerical product, an open
source project, a Ph. D. dissertation, or whatever.Thanks for your
/* Daniel */
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Since at least the 1990 standard, the official spelling is "Fortran".
Fortran 90 and later versions have array operations, similar to Matlab. I don't know if your editor idea is feasible, but if you implement it I suggest that it be able to translate user-specified array operations into Fortran 90/95 code. I wonder if Matlab already fills the niche you are talking about.
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I'm betting that it'll be a tough sell. So much of the math you put into a code is much more complex than a single equation or two. Also... typing in the equation would still be just as difficult as it is today. Howevever, I can see how a program that puts up a more grahical representation of the equation on the screen as you type it might be nice. Actually.. having the standard ASCII style equation and a graphical form of it side by side as you type might be nice. It might help reduce the number of bugs... especially for those with less programming experience. Maybe you could highlight an existing line of math code and then see it in a graphical form?
In the end though... I tend to think this would merely be one capability of an otherwise normal editor. Though... thought out well... it could prove a popular capability. In the end though, I think the success of such a code will be it's raw editing capabilities and how user friendly it is. If you write a good, powerful, intuitive editor... you could sell it ( even without graphical equations ). Of course... most editors don't sell that well. Only a few do. However, those that do... make a lot of money for their authors. In the Windows world... Textpad and UltraEdit come to mind. I love using Textpad myself.
Dan :-)
Dan :-)
Reply to
Dan Tex1
No, Matlab doesn't fill the niche I'm talking about. Matlab's editor is purely ASCII text based. No graphical display of equations at all.
Now, MathCAD sort of tries to fill this niche, but in my opinion it doesn't do it all that well. MathCAD gets you some nice GUI stuff, but all you can do is write in their proprietary, interactive, interpreted language. It's nice for quick and dirty stuff, but I don't really think it is good for large numeric codes. What I'm talking about would be the ability to edit standard Fortran/C/whatever in WYSIWYG form, and still be able to use existing, highly-optimized compilers.
/* Daniel */
Reply to
Howevever, I
Well, in my opinion the time it takes to type in the code is only a very minor percent of the time involved in software development. The large majority of the time is spend in bug fixing and maintenence. These are the two key areas where having graphical equation displays are a huge plus. I have seen programmers stare at a couple of lines of buggy code for hours and not be able to see the bug because the order of operations was obscured by ASCII representation of the equation. Simple display of fractions and square root operators would have made the bug obvious in seconds.
capability of an
You may be right. I am wondering if the best way to proceed would be find an existing editor vendor and then license my ideas to them. /* Daniel */
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I have seen programmers stare at a couple of lines of
Are you talking of a strict representation of the equation as coded? Many time the most efficient way of coding an equation is far from how it is most simply or best represented mathematically. ________________________________________________________ Ed Ruf Lifetime AMA# 344007 (
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Ed Ruf
Daniel: I am a longtime Fortran / Basic program developer, and I think you could be onto something of considerable value here for scientific program development. I only read a part of the PDF at your web site, but you have some very interesting ideas there.
I think I personally could get a lot of use out of the system you are proposing, so I would like to see it brought into existence.
I wonder just how you could make this a commercial success. I suggest that you consider getting together with Mackichan Software
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. These folks sell a perfectly marvelous word processing/scientific analysis package called Scientific WorkPlace that I use all the time. They might be able to help you realize your idea, and they might be able to help you market it. This is all just a thought, but they are already doing things that are somewhat in this vein.
Overall, I really like your idea and hope it goes forward, one way or another. I think this would be a big step forward.
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Dr. Sam

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