I’m making my living developing ‘tactical software’ with some associates for a large UK pensions provider. We’ve pretty much turned the conventional model of software development inside out, reversing the division of labour and bringing the whole development process to the users’ desks, where we might go through an entire analyse-specify-design-code-test cycle in 15 minutes. A key tool in this is the programming language APL, which lets me write business rules the users can read them for themselves.
The APLs (APL in several dialects, and J and K) are extraordinarily powerful and concise: see their homepage at Vector Online. This expressiveness permits great variation in writing style. Like legal English, APL programs can be impenetrable gibberish; they can also display a breathtaking clarity. My APL writing is guided by a strong æsthetic sense, from which a software poetics is emerging around concepts of semantic density and a metrics of distance. It might be possible from this to produce a formal metric of clarity.
A key inspiration is the work of the Agile Alliance. But Extreme Programmers struggle on chiefly in Java and C++, and haven’t seen how far they could take their ideas with APL. Everywhere I see programmers working in chains. So I’m active in the British APL Association and am editing its journal Vector for a year.
So often one’s true life is the life one does not lead. Oscar Wilde
You can live two lives, but not three. Nigella Lawson
Author, barrister, jazz singer, saxophonist, therapist, typographer & printer
Perhaps one day I’ll bring to a wider audience my Theory of Romance — why we fall in love with the people we do, and what it means for marriage — and other ideas in moral philosophy. A book perhaps, possibly a seminar, possibly as philosophical cabaret — a new genre.