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Visual AgenTalk®

Visual AgenTalk tool is a rule-based end user programming language built into Agentsheets. It employs a new approach to end-user programming called Tactile Programming. Tactile Programming language constracts and programs not only have enhanced visual representations to help program readability, but also have interactive interfaces to assist with program writability. Tactile Programming eases program composition, comprehension and sharing.

  • Composition: Programs can be composed and decomposed incrementally along clearly defined boundaries.

  • Comprehension: Perception by manipulation allows end-users to efficiently examine functionality. Any language component at any time can be dragged and dropped onto any agent. The component will execute with visual feedback revealing conditions that are true or false and showing the consequences of executed actions.

  • Sharing: Tactile programming supports a migration from solitary to social programming. Entire simulations or individual agents can be shared.

Tactile Programming

The AgentSheets environment has a history reaching back to 1989. We have a created numerous projects with AgentSheets. Some of them as one afternoon hacks, others as multiple person-year projects. In this process we have experimented with extensions to Object-Oriented Programming frameworks, Programming by Example, and Graphical Rewrite Rules. While we realized the ease of end-user programming with graphical rewrite rules, we wanted to create a language to move beyond their limitations.

The Visual AgenTalk tool explores new scalable programming paradigms that feature the same ease of use for end-user programming but allowing users to gradually move towards the power of some of the more traditional programming paradigms. Visual AgenTalk features what we call Tactile Programming, which extends visual with tactile perception. In essence, Visual Programming is employing visual perception to simplify programming by increasing the readability of programs. Tactile Programming does not question this goal but hopes to make programming more accessible to end-users by adding the perception of manipulation to visual perception. In Tactile Programming programs are no longer static representations nor is the notion of manipulation reserved to only editing programs. Instead, tactile programs and their representations are dynamic and include manipulation. As a result, Tactile Programming turns into a unified program manipulation paradigm that provides a way to conceptualize programs, by support the composition, comprehension and even sharing of programs through the World Wide Web.

For more information on Visual AgenTalk and Tactile Programming can be found in the numerous scientific and research publications about AgentSheets or the tutorial videos.

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