Programming is not only about countless strings of letters and numbers. The computer can also be ‘talked’ to with the help of the language of pictures. Given that most people are visuals, this programming method is easier and clearer. However, it has its pros and cons. Here about them we will tell in more detail.
So what exactly is visual programming?
Visual programming is the way of representing computational logic using not only the text, but also visual expressions (for instance, graphics, pictures, animations or icons). They can also be used as graphical interfaces for textual programming languages.
Graphics or icons that are included in a visual program serve as input data, actions, links or output programs. Visual programming is an excellent learning tool. These languages provide a basic integrated development environment (IDE) for easy and fast development of computer programs.
Visual programming language was mainly used in the 80’s and 90’s in order for game sets, multimedia tools and databases to be created. The VPL is not a sustainable alternative to programming models for most developers, because real things are too complex to be encoded only visually.
The main objective of visual programming is to facilitate the interaction with the computer.
Advantages of visual programming:
- Visual elements are easy to understand, that is the development of something in a visual programming language requires less effort.
- There is no need for long-term learning.
- The probability of mistakes reduces due to the absence of syntax.
- It helps to understand the basic concept of programming in order to be able to switch to more complex programming languages in the future.
- It provides the process of research programming, ie, creating the program step by step before the solution is fully considered.
- Each stage (step) can be tested for its functionality.
- The results can usually be exported to other textual programming languages.
- It includes the variety of built-in objects that are needed for the creation of something with the help of VSL.
- The addition of the special code is accessible and simple since it allows the blocks to be created in accordance with the usability.
Disadvantages of visual programming:
- Visually programmed objects are difficult to scale, so they can not be adapted to large or fast-growing objects.
- In case of large projects, the advantage of research programming may quickly become a drawback in the form of the unstructured code. Such programs are inconvenient to maintain and expand.
- It is impossible to create separate elements or add comments for viewing by project team members. Accordingly, it complicates teamwork.
- The part of graphic programming is connected with special applications, certain systems, hardware or end-devices.
- These languages require more memory, because of the usage of graphics. Accordingly, it slows down the working process.
- These languages can only run on an operating system that supports graphics such as Windows, Mac.
- If the built-in features are not enough, the addition of the own code will be needed. The knowledge of text encoding is also necessary.
- Only limited features are available in visual languages.
The scope of the most usage of the visual programming:
Top 5 most popular languages for visual programming (VPL):
- Scratch is a free programming language developed by MIT, which allows you to easily create interactive stories, animations, games, music and art as well as share your creations online.
- Ardublock is a programming environment designed in order to simplify physical computing with Arduino for beginners. ArduBlock allows you to program visually using a linked list of code blocks instead of writing code and worrying about syntax and (incorrect) placement of semicolons.
- mBlock is a STEAM programming tool designed for kid’s programming. It is based on Scratch 3.0 and Arduino code and supports block and text programming languages. Children can not only create games and animations by dragging the blocks or using the Python code, but they can also encode robots or boards in order to do whatever they can imagine with the help of mBlock. mBlock introduces kids to advanced technologies, allowing them to create projects with technologies such as AI and IoT.
- Minibloq is basically a graphic code generator with some IDE features. It is autonomous and each distribution contains the full chain of tools needed for compiling (or interpreting, depending on the purpose chosen) and deploying the code on the selected hardware. Each code block is configured in XML. Starting with the first public version, the code is generated in real time.
- Bubble language allows users to create web applications, including social networking sites, such as Twitter; marketplaces, such as Airbnb and Uber; services, such as Instacart, etc., with the help of tutorials. Bubble provides custom APi integrations, templates and plugins. Platform users have also created new third-party templates, plugins and services, which are created in the Bubble ecosystem.
In conclusion, it can be asserted that visual programming is a quite simple and convenient solution in certain areas, for instance in education.
However, the knowledge of programming languages is still crucial for creating complex and large-scale projects.
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