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Programming

Has Flow-Based Programming's Time Arrived? 268

Posted by Soulskill
from the go-with-the-flow dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Flow-based programming keeps resurfacing lately. FBP claims to make it easier for non-programmers to build applications by stringing together transformations built by expert programmers. Many projects have already been using similar approaches for a long time, with less (or different?) hype. Is it time to take a closer look at flow-based programming? 'Clean functions – functions without side effects – are effectively pure transformations. Something comes in, something goes out, and the results should be predictable. Functions that create side effects or rely on additional inputs (say, from a database) are more complicated to model, but it’s easier to train programmers to notice that complexity when it’s considered unusual. The difficulty, of course, is that decomposing programs into genuinely independent components in a fine-grained way is difficult. Many programmers have to re-orient themselves from orthodox object-oriented development, and shift to a world in which data structures are transparent but the behavior – the transformation – is not.'"
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Has Flow-Based Programming's Time Arrived?

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  • by WetCat (558132) on Friday October 18, 2013 @03:09AM (#45161905)

    Talend.com offers Talend Open Studio - a great free software product for flow-based visual programming, based on Eclipse.
    I used it for projects for 5 years and was amazed, how easy to make complex data transformation by dragging and dropping components and links.
    A result is a java (or Perl) program, which can run standalone.
    The program is a visual data flow, easy to modify and understand even for non-programmers.
    I really appreciate Talend team effort and recommend this product for all, who need data transformations.

  • Not this again! (Score:4, Informative)

    by beaverdownunder (1822050) on Friday October 18, 2013 @03:46AM (#45162107)

    This has been tried over, and over again many times over the last 30 years.

    It just plain-old doesn't work. You get inefficient, bloated code at the best of times, and 99% of the time you need some sort of custom function that still requires conventional software development.

    So, no, flow-based programming's time has _NOT_ arrived.

  • Re:No. (Score:4, Informative)

    by Rob Riggs (6418) on Friday October 18, 2013 @09:57AM (#45164073) Homepage Journal

    I disagree. I have been playing around lately with GNU Radio Companion [gnuradio.org], designing SDR (software-defined radio) tools using a cheap DVB dongle [osmocom.org]. The transformations of the signal into a human-digestible format is made very easy. I am a software engineer -- I have written a lot of code. But there is a certain class of problems that lend itself to flow-based programming. GRC is one. And ETL tools are another. That is not to say that one does not, from time to time, have to write one's own code block. I have done that for GRC and for some ETL tools. But for 99% of what I have needed, a simple flow graph was all that was required.

Programmers do it bit by bit.

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