As mentioned before, one of the protestations levelled at literate programming is that it was created for a time when source control wasn’t in use, and that source control seems to be a good place to document coding decisions. Knuth had privately used a literate programming system called DOC as early as 1979. Literate programming increases product quality by requiring software developers to examine and explain their code. Zed indicates in his essay that he supports literate programming, or at least it's goals. [17], The documentation for a literate program is produced as part of writing the program. [8], Knuth also claims that Literate Programming can lead to easy porting of software to multiple environments, and even cites the implementation of TeX as an example.[11]. Criticism of methods and tools is not the same as decrying an endeavor as foolhardy. I think lit offers some compelling features. endstream endobj 316 0 obj <>stream To use Docco Next run npm install -g docco-next and run it passing it a list of files (e.g. If we express a program as a web of ideas, we can emphasize its structural properties in a natural and satisfying way. This idea has subsequently gained a good deal of traction not least because it is powerful and deceptively simple. Back in Shakespeare’s time, the Elizabethan Age, the population of England was a small fraction of what it is today. [6] However, it correctly resembles the complicated nature of software delicately pieced together from simple materials.[1]. But as time went on, I've become extremely pleased with the name, because I think that a complex piece of software is, indeed, best regarded as a web that has been delicately pieced together from simple materials. This style is called literate programming. I buy the discipline. Unlike structured programming, literate programming often makes use of common-day language combined with source code that is considered traditional. Knuth presented a CWEB version of this example in Chapter 12 of his Literate Programming book. A successful, modern incarnation of literate programming is going to have to fully support our current module-based world. [5] While the first generation of literate programming tools were computer language-specific, the later ones are language-agnostic and exist above the programming languages. Much of the mindset of modern programming is that your code should be its own documentation. Literate programming is a programming paradigm introduced by Donald Knuth in which a computer program is given an explanation of its logic in a natural language, such as English, interspersed with snippets of macros and traditional source code, from which compilable source code can be generated. docco src/*js). Already, various thinkers about the future have proposed a number of candidates forthe designation "twenty-first-century literacy." with the written code. Literate programmingis a way of developing software where documentation comes first, then the coding. Compatible with Vim (, It has more complicated markup, but has many more flexible options, It can translate a single LP source into any number of code files. XML's near ubiquity and web-centric design ensures broad accessibility and understandability. Literate tools take a literate file and essentially generate two types of files. 0 ° ´ @ &. an editor for literate programming. This implementation was called "WEB" by Knuth since he believed that it was one of the few three-letter words of English that hadn't already been applied to computing. The literate programming paradigm, as conceived by Knuth, represents a move away from writing computer programs in the manner and order imposed by the computer, and instead enables programmers to develop programs in the order demanded by the logic and flow of their thoughts. Literate programming is very often misunderstood[12] to refer only to formatted documentation produced from a common file with both source code and comments – which is properly called documentation generation – or to voluminous commentaries included with code. [17] This example provides a good illustration of the basic elements of literate programming. ", "I chose the name WEB partly because it was one of the few three-letter words of English that hadn't already been applied to computers. [2] Literate programming tools are used by millions of programmers today.[3]. Knuth also claims that literate programming provides a first-rate documentation system, which is not an add-on, but is grown naturally in the process of exposition of one's thoughts during a program's creation. With that in mind, some people have experimented with git as a way of approaching literate programming. The complete commented TeX source code was published in Knuth's TeX: The program, volume B of his 5-volume Computers and Typesetting. Literate programming requires that there is freedom in ordering content in the literate file. Provides an interactive programming environment that evaluates each statement and displays live results as the code is edited. While the programming language provides instructions for the computer, the language for formatting documents encapsulates the programming code and allows one to build complex documents that can include headings, tables, mathematical equations, figures, citations and other elements. [4] Literate programs are written as an uninterrupted exposition of logic in an ordinary human language, much like the text of an essay, in which macros are included to hide abstractions and traditional source code. Literate programming isn’t something that many modern software developers seem to have heard of, but it isn’t a new idea. 3.3 Literate programming and RMarkdown The term “literate programming” was coined by Donald Knuth Knuth (1984) based on the idea that a computer program should be documented in a manner such that it is readable by humans. It does not have the extensibility of, Respects indentation which makes usable for the languages like. This approach makes it possible for the programmer to create macros that are descriptive and explanatory in nature, based on the though processes of the … Literate programming is a style of programming invented by Donald Knuth, where the main idea is that a program's source code is made primarily to be read and understood by other people, and secondarily to be executed by the computer. A complex piece of software consists of simple parts and simple relations between those parts; the programmer's task is to state those parts and those relationships, in whatever order is best for human comprehension not in some rigidly determined order like top-down or bottom-up." The following snippet of the wc literate program[17] shows how arbitrary descriptive phrases in a natural language are used in a literate program to create macros, which act as new "operators" in the literate programming language, and hide chunks of code or other macros. Macros are not the same as "section names" in standard documentation. In other words, the name of one macro can usefully be a parameter to another macro. See the generated documentation as HTML. Aims to modernize and scale it with "folding HTML" and "virtual views" on code. Literate programming is writing out the program logic in a human language with included (separated by a primitive markup) code snippets and macros. McIlroy later admitted that his critique was unfair, since he criticized Knuth's program on engineering grounds, while Knuth's purpose was only to demonstrate the literate programming technique. All literate programs consist of prose and literate constructs. The same example was later rewritten for the noweb literate programming tool. I would love to get some feedback. We understand a complicated system by understanding its simple parts, and by understanding the simple relations between those parts and their immediate neighbors. [10] The resulting documentation allows the author to restart his own thought processes at any later time, and allows other programmers to understand the construction of the program more easily. Applicability of the concept to programming on a large scale, that of commercial-grade programs, is proven by an edition of TeX code as a literate program. Its central tenet is that documentation is more important than source code and should be the focus of a programmer's activity. This anthology of essays from Donald Knuth, "the father of computer science," and the inventor of literate programming includes early essays on related topics such as structured programming, as well as The Computer Journal article that launched literate programming itself. This idea has been implemented in a number of modern literate programming tools (Table 1). The "<<*>>" symbol stands for the "root", topmost node the literate programming tool will start expanding the web of macros from. The first published literate programming environment was WEB, introduced by Knuth in 1981 for his TeX typesetting system; it uses Pascal as its underlying programming language and TeX for typesetting of the documentation. Works in the format of notebooks, which combine headings, text (including LaTeX), plots, etc. If the code was written with Literate Programming techniques, much of this question/answer would be superflous because the explanation would be included. He has fashioned a sort of industrial-strength Faberge egg—intricate, wonderfully worked, refined beyond all ordinary desires, a museum piece from the start. According to Knuth,[8][9] These arbitrary explanatory phrases become precise new operators, created on the fly by the programmer, forming a meta-language on top of the underlying programming language. [12][13], In 1986, Jon Bentley asked Knuth to demonstrate the concept of literate programming by writing a program in WEB. “It also makes the program more difficult to change because prose tends to be more tightly interconnected than code. Contribute to bweir/litter development by creating an account on GitHub. ", "Thus the WEB language allows a person to express programs in a "stream of consciousness" order. Ron Isaac. —, If one remembers that the first version of the tool was called WEB, the amusing literary reference hidden by Knuth in these names becomes obvious: "Oh, what a tangled web we weave when first we practise to deceive" –, "A Multi-Language Computing Environment for Literate Programming and Reproducible Research", https://orgmode.org/worg/org-contrib/babel/intro.html, https://orgmode.org/worg/org-contrib/babel/languages.html#langs, https://orgmode.org/worg/org-contrib/babel/intro.html#literate-programming, Milestones in Computer Science and Information Technology, "Markup Formatting Reference: Markup Overview", "Sweave, Part I: Mixing R and LaTeX: A short introduction to the Sweave file format and corresponding R functions", "The Joy of Sweave – A Beginner's Guide to Reproducible Research with Sweave", "knitr: A General-Purpose Tool for Dynamic Report Generation in R", "Web 68: Literate programming with Algol 68", "Weaving a Program: Literate Programming in WEB", "Literate Programming – Issues and Problems", Things a Computer Scientist Rarely Talks About, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Literate_programming&oldid=996413715, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License. It does it in a single invocation; it does not have separate weave and tangle commands. Others have noted the power of XML as a basis for modern literate programming [14, 24, 31]. It uses "noweb" markup for the literate source files. Literate programming is a programming and documentation methodology. Supports the iJulia mode of development which was inspired by iPython. This anthology of essays from Donald Knuth, "the father of computer science," and the inventor of literate programming includes early essays on related topics such as structured programming, as well as The Computer Journal article that launched literate programming itself. modern notebooks embody the spirit of literate computing, which is a generalization of Knuth’s literate programming vision that mixes code with both exposition and rich outputs such as images, videos, and interactive widgets [7]. Docco Next facilitates literate programming in several languages. Knuth wrote a "novel" which explains the code of the interactive fiction game Colossal Cave Adventure.[18]. : Literate programming is a method to integrate programs with their documentation. TANGLE is able to scramble everything up into the arrangement that a PASCAL compiler demands. These macros are similar to the algorithms in pseudocode typically used in teaching computer science. Install and use. Compilable modules are no separate entities, but they are extracted from the documentation. Literate programming facilitates this approach by combining code and documentation into a single, unified source document. The mark-up notation consists of double angle brackets ("<<...>>") that indicate macros, the "@" symbol which indicates the end of the code section in a noweb file. Current literate programming tools falls into several categories: require tex. The system was developed by Donald Knuth at Stanford University with the purpose of enabling anyone to generate high-quality books, and to develop a system that yields the same results whatever computer is used. [1], In a noweb literate program besides the free order of their exposition, the chunks behind macros, once introduced with "<<...>>=", can be grown later in any place in the file by simply writing "<>=" and adding more content to it, as the following snippet illustrates ("plus" is added by the document formatter for readability, and is not in the code). This feature of WEB is perhaps its greatest asset; it makes a WEB-written program much more readable than the same program written purely in PASCAL, even if the latter program is well commented. The … January 13, 2008. Credit: Laura Morris Designs. ", Program as a web—macros are not just section names, Order of human logic, not that of the compiler, "I had the feeling that top-down and bottom-up were opposing methodologies: one more suitable for program exposition and the other more suitable for program creation. It’s a powerful low-level markup and programming language that creates professional quality typeset text. [1] The approach is used in scientific computing and in data science routinely for reproducible research and open access purposes. A classic example of literate programming is the literate implementation of the standard Unix wc word counting program. Literate programming [19] is a possible solution to the software comprehension problem de­ scribed above. McIlroy concluded:[14]. Literate programming encourages meaningful documentation and the inclusion of details that are usually omitted in source code such as the description of algorithms, design decisions, and implementation strategy. Literate programmingis a way to write programs prioritized for understanding. This is the converse of literate programming: well-documented code or documentation extracted from code follows the structure of the code, with documentation embedded in the code; while in literate programming, code is embedded in documentation, with the code following the structure of the documentation. The first published literate programming environment. Supports a limited form of literate programming out of the box. A number of folks on Reddit and irreal.com have pointed out that I don't dive deep enough to really call the content in this post literate programming. [17], In fact, macros can stand for any arbitrary chunk of code or other macros, and are thus more general than top-down or bottom-up "chunking", or than subsectioning. Aside from publishing academic papers on new notebook systems (summarized in Section IV), researchers have also Again, I did this in the interests of simplicity, because I noticed that most applications of multiple parameters could in fact be reduced to the one-parameter case. I do not buy the result. McIlroy praised the intricacy of Knuth's solution, his choice of a data structure (Frank M. Liang's hash trie), but noted that more practical, much faster to implement, debug and modify solution of the problem takes only six lines of shell script by reusing standard Unix utilities. Actually, writing out the expanded source code can be done from any section or subsection (i.e. And the fact that there's no need to be hung up on the question of top-down versus bottom-up, since a programmer can now view a large program as a web, to be explored in a psychologically correct order is perhaps the greatest lesson I have learned from my recent experiences. Literate programming uses modern, common language to create scripts. The main intention behind this approach was to treat a program as literature understandable to human beings. Literate programming macros can hide any chunk of code behind themselves, and be used inside any low-level machine language operators, often inside logical operators such as "if", "while" or "case". Literate programming tools are used by millions of programmers today. The technique involves writing documentation and program code in a single source document, psychologically arranged for comprehension by humans rather than comput­ ers. Otherwise, you are restricted to the execution order of the computer. Such exposition of ideas creates the flow of thought that is like a literary work. Knuth came up with an 8-pages long monolithic listing that was published together with a critique by Douglas McIlroy of Bell Labs. The approach is used in scientific computing and in data science routinely for reproducible research and open access purposes. literate programming provides higher-quality programs, since it forces programmers to explicitly state the thoughts behind the program, making poorly thought-out design decisions more obvious. However, because these tools do not implement the "web of abstract concepts" hiding behind the system of natural-language macros, or provide an ability to change the order of the source code from a machine-imposed sequence to one convenient to the human mind, they cannot properly be called literate programming tools in the sense intended by Knuth. Tangling: Generating machine executable code, The Web 68 Literate Programming system used, This page was last edited on 26 December 2020, at 13:17. The term was coined in 1983 by Donald Knuth to refer to the new way in which he was laying out his software projects. It is well known for its simplicity and it allows for text formatting in HTML rather than going through the TeX system. Literate programming was first introduced by Knuth in 1984. In this paper we discuss the characteristics of Literate Programming and the development of programming environments to support Literate Programming in the past two decades. Macros in a literate source file are simply title-like or explanatory phrases in a human language that describe human abstractions created while solving the programming problem, and hiding chunks of code or lower-level macros. This approach was implemented at Stanford University as a part of research on algorithms and digital typography. Modula-2 Reloaded – A Modern Typesafe and Literate Programming Language (modula-2.info) ... Just interested if their definition of literate includes "macros", or just the semi-literate stuff you see more commonly these days (i.e. Knuth has shown us here how to program intelligibly, but not wisely. My original idea was that WEB would be merely a tool for documentation, but I actually found that my WEB programs were better than the programs I had been writing in other languages. Many examples are given, including excerpts from the programs for TeX and METAFONT. Moving ahead. If anything, i'd say that Zed's an exemplary member of the community in terms of cranking out code that's easy to follow -AND- has documentation -AND- a manual. a piece of code designated as "<>=", with the equal sign), so one literate program file can contain several files with machine source code. CiteSeerX - Document Details (Isaac Councill, Lee Giles, Pradeep Teregowda): Literate programming was invented by Donald Knuth as a technique for improved documentation of program understanding. By Marc Prensky. A Case for Contemporary Literate Programming VREDA PIETERSE, DERRICK G. KOURIE AND ANDREW BOAKE University of Pretoria _____ In this paper we discuss the characteristics of Literate Programming and the development of programming environments to support Literate Programming in the past two decades. Programming Is the New Literacy. But after gaining experience with WEB, I have come to realize that there is no need to choose once and for all between top-down and bottom-up, because a program is best thought of as a web instead of a tree. For example, this paragraph is a valid literate program. It is an inverse literate programming tool available as a Ruby Gem. A hierarchical structure is present, but the most important thing about a program is its structural relationships. Playgrounds also allow the user to add. Literate Programming tools can be quite simple if they're focused on modern, high-level object-oriented (or functional) programming languages. The meta-language capabilities of literate programming are also claimed to facilitate thinking, giving a higher "bird's eye view" of the code and increasing the number of concepts the mind can successfully retain and process. Literate programming (LP) tools are used to obtain two representations from a literate source file: one suitable for further compilation or execution by a computer, the "tangled" code, and another for viewing as formatted documentation, which is said to be "woven" from the literate source. [19] The free CWEB, written by Knuth and Silvio Levy, is WEB adapted for C and C++, runs on most operating systems and can produce TeX and PDF documentation. Implementing literate programming consists of two steps: Weaving and tangling are done on the same source so that they are consistent with each other. By definition, literate programming requires an extra build step — the so-called “tangle” step of extracting and re-arranging the program code in … lack actual macro expansion (docco and friends, literatehaskell) outdated and difficult to build. A preprocessor is used to substitute arbitrary hierarchies, or rather "interconnected 'webs' of macros",[7] to produce the compilable source code with one command ("tangle"), and documentation with another ("weave"). Instead of comments provided as side notes to source code a literate program contains the explanation of concepts on each level, with lower level concepts deferred to their appropriate place, which allows for better communication of thought. Weaving: Generating a comprehensive document about the program and its maintenance. This differs from traditional documentation, in which a programmer is presented with source code that follows a compiler-imposed order, and must decipher the thought process behind the program from the code and its associated comments. There is less need for elaborate workarounds because of the limitations of C (or Pascal or Assembler). This is illustrated by the following snippet of the wc literate program. Instead of the machine-readable source code being extracted out of the literate documentation sources, the literate documentation is extracted out of the normal machine-readable source code files. The” ― Marijn Haverbeke, Eloquent JavaScript: A Modern Introduction to Programming Perhaps a more appropriate title would include Literate Scripting ; regardless, the content I present here is … He was inspired by the ideas of Pierre-Arnoul de Marneffe. The visual appearance of the software source code would be … Home » Commentaries » How we define modern literacy How we define modern literacy. Nœ6?°§¥¬‰a™?|Ùþ„þ2ò%À ñ…lÕ One writes the documentation of a code snippet, and then writes the implementation of the snippet. Knuth says that when he realized this, he began to think of a program as a web of various parts. This particular trick makes it possible to...", "Another surprising thing that I learned while using WEB was that traditional programming languages had been causing me to write inferior programs, although I hadn't realized what I was doing. It’s written in modern Javascript, and runs in Node. The unraveling of the chunks can be done in any place in the literate program text file, not necessarily in the order they are sequenced in the enclosing chunk, but as is demanded by the logic reflected in the explanatory text that envelops the whole program. It involves writing code and documentation in a single source document, ordered for comprehension by humans rather than computers. Many examples are given, including excerpts from the programs for TeX and METAFONT. There are various other implementations of the literate programming concept (some of them don't have macros and hence violate the order of human logic principle): "WEB's macros are allowed to have at most one parameter. The preprocessor also provides an ability to write out the content of the macros and to add to already created macros in any place in the text of the literate program source file, thereby disposing of the need to keep in mind the restrictions imposed by traditional programming languages or to interrupt the flow of thought. [15] In 1987, Communications of the ACM published a followup article which illustrated literate programming with a C program that combined artistic approach of Knuth with engineering approach of McIlroy, with a critique by John Gilbert.[16]. This misconception has led to claims that comment-extraction tools, such as the Perl Plain Old Documentation or Java Javadoc systems, are "literate programming tools". Power will soon belong to those who can master a variety of expressive human-machine interactions. Supports TeX equations. Literate programming is a programming paradigm introduced by Donald Knuth in which a computer program is given an explanation of its logic in a natural language, such as English, interspersed with snippets of macros and traditional source code, from which compilable source code can be generated. Jul 16, 2015 by Ron Isaac EducationViews Contributor. , it correctly resembles the complicated nature of software delicately pieced together from simple materials. [ ]... Laura Morris Designs ´ @ & execution order of the literate source files but not wisely of... He realized this, he began to think of a programmer 's activity we can its! Text formatting in HTML rather than computers it is powerful and deceptively simple who. His 5-volume computers and Typesetting its simple parts, and by understanding the simple between... It allows for text formatting in HTML rather than comput­ ers ; it does it in single! Present, but not wisely of literate programming often makes use of common-day combined... Traction not least because it is today. [ 1 ] done any... In modern Javascript, and then writes the documentation the basic elements of literate programming out of mindset! ( e.g but they are extracted from the programs for TeX and METAFONT increases quality. Than code reproducible research and open access purposes subsequently gained a good illustration of the box essay that supports... 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