[PD] Good PD programming practice?

Hans-Christoph Steiner hans at eds.org
Tue Mar 23 14:29:19 CET 2004

On Sunday, Mar 21, 2004, at 17:08 America/New_York, Larry Troxler wrote:

> On Sunday 21 March 2004 16:35, Frank Barknecht wrote:
>> Hallo,
>> Mathieu Bouchard hat gesagt: // Mathieu Bouchard wrote:
>>> On Wed, 10 Mar 2004, Hans-Christoph Steiner wrote:
>>>> There are a massive amount of books about programming techniques for
>>>> procedural and object oriented languages, but there is basically
>>>> nothing about programming techniques for patcher languages, even
>>>> though they have been around for 20+ years and are decently 
>>>> widespread
>>>> in use.
> Guys, I've been following this interesting discussion off and on, and 
> forgive
> me if this point has already been brought up or you disagree: Graphical
> programing languages don't scale well to large projects.  They're 
> strength is
> in getting highly customized things done quickly and interactively. 
> From what
> I've seen however, they are generally not the right tool for creating 
> large,
> general purpose, modularized applications.
> Years ago, my company needed to develop an PC spectrum analyzer 
> application
> for the cable extrusion industry (if their are preriodic dimensional
> fluctuations in coax cable, the reinforced reflections will create a 
> marked
> attenuation at a certain frequency). Rather than doing this in C, we
> contracted a  Labview consultant to do the whole thing in Labview. 
> Now, this
> was a small to medium size general purpose application for which we 
> provided
> a set of detailed specifcations.
> The result, although it worked great, was a big mess, and hard to 
> maintain and
> modify. Looking at the Labview "patches", it became clear to us that 
> we were
> trying to stretch a graphical language far beyond its purpose. The next
> iteration of the product used Labview's C library instead, and was by 
> far
> easier to maintain.
> I think that graphical "programming languages" are great tools for the 
> end
> user, and not the general purpose application developer.
> Well, I just wanted to share that story, and I do realize that it is 
> somewhat
> tangential.

I agree that current practice with patcher programming languages makes 
it difficult to maintain larger scale apps, but I not ready to give up 
and say that its an inherent problem with patcher languages.  
Procedural programming was established at least 20 years before patcher 
languages, and there has been many orders of magnitude more work done 
on figuring out how to make manageable, large-scale software projects 
in C than in Max/Pd.  So there exists a huge body of knowledge about 
how to make C programs manageable.

So I think that with efforts such as this one, we can begin to figure 
out how to manage large scale patcher projects.  I concede that patcher 
languages will probably not be as good as procedural or object-oriented 
languages at large scale projects, but I think things can get a lot 


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