Updated: Sun Apr 14 13:52:01 UTC 2024


Visual Programming Languages – The Pros And Cons Of Visual Programming Languages

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Image Details : Visual programming languages

Most of the commonly used and known languages in tech are textually based, for example, JavaScript, C++, Python etc. On the other end of the spectrum, we have visual programs that implement graphical elements rather than lines of code. Visual programming language (VPL) is a programming language that employs graphical elements and figures to create programs. VPL lets users create software programs using visual expressions, spatial arrangements of text and graphic symbols, and icons within the programming context. In VPL, traditional textual code is replaced with a series of visual elements in a systematic order. The graphics or icons included within the visual program serve as input, activities, connections and/or output of the program. Visual programming is an incredible instructional tool. Visual Basic and Visual C++ are examples of the visual programming language. These languages provide an elementary integrated development environment (IDE) to create a computer program. The IDE provides the programmer can create programs very easily and rapidly. One example of a program created with VPL is Scratch, a visual programming language from MIT that’s used to teach children, created with the intention of making programming more accessible and fun for young people. 

Visual programming language was primarily used in the 80s and 90s to create gaming kits, multimedia tools, and databases. Work on their Rational Unified Process and related efforts eventually led to the creation of Unified Modelling Language and that had the potential to document every last part of a system without ever writing a line of code. UML provided a standardized and comprehensive language for describing object-oriented systems. Visual programming has lacked the success of other programming languages for multiple reasons, however, it is not dead. For most developers, VPL is not a sustainable alternative to model software programs because real-life things are too complex to be coded only visually. For visual learning enthusiasts, the software tends to be limited by the imagination of the creator in a way that doesn’t hamper general-purpose textual programming languages.

Tools like Visual Basic, Delphi, and their descendants have shown us that building software visually can be enormously efficient. Today, we have a world where software development is made up of increasingly complex parts and where developers are ordinary people with extraordinary specializations. That complexity and specialization are badly suited to the pure visual programming of those early tools but it also makes it increasingly hard to build rounded software engineering teams. While pure visual programming environments have failed, there is a whole cache of similar tools that take the best of visual programming and combine it with text-based coding. Whereas visual programming was “no-code,” these new tools are low-code.

The advantages of visual programming languages:

  • These languages are easy to learn and use.
  • These languages provide many built-in objects that can be used in developing new programs. 
  • The user-interface can be designed very easily by using a mouse. The components are placed on the main interface component like forms. These components can be resized and moved easily.
  • These languages provide a facility to attach code to each interface component. The attached code is executed when the user interacts with the interface component.
  • The users can use the visual applications very easily.

The disadvantage of  visual programming languages:

  • These languages require computers with more memory, high storage capacity of hard disk, and faster processor.
  • These languages can only be implemented on graphical operating systems like Linux and windows.
  • The execution speed of visual applications is slow.

In conclusion,

Visual programming held so much promise but unfortunately in its early stages, it came up a little short on those promises. However, they continue to more relevant than ever. Real-world problems demand greater flexibility than visual programming could offer hence it might never be able to take the place of the superior textual programming languages. But low-code platforms are helping to reduce the complexity of coding and make it more accessible for citizen developers. We find in modern software development that VPL is an important part of the sector and will never fade into obscurity. 

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