Handling Source Code in a Browser

The Simple Solution

This is the site of a freelance programmer who builds his own IDEs. Who likes it simple, and wonders at the complexity you endure in conventional programming systems.

The root of the complexity is the source file. You need source files for the compiler, ok. But you are not forced to handle the programming process on files. There is a better way.

Why Not in a Browser?

A program is an ordered collection of units: procedures, objects, methods, variables, etc., each identified by a name. Collections are usually handled in lists or databases. I keep wondering: Why is source code still managed in text files? Why don't programmers prefer a browser?

Smalltalk does. But Smalltalk is extreme, it handles source and code together in an "image". There are no source files. Instead you have this wonderful source browser that lets you work directly on the whole program.

"Procedural Smalltalk"

Smalltalk was the role model for Holonforth. I admired the hierarchical order of OO programs and wondered how the source browser could be applied to procedural source. You have files and programming units but a middle level is missing. Then I noted that generally groups of units tend to serve common functions. The first Holon system had a structure of modules, groups and (Forth) words. It was functional in 1989 and evolved into Holon86.

Holon86 is a complete IDE including compiler, assembler and debugger. Source and compiled code are managed in an 'image', similar to Smalltalk. There is no need for external source files.

Later Holonforth became a multi-platform IDE for general use. HolonS creates source files as a 'pipe' to a code generator (compiler or interpreter). Each module is mirrored in a file.