Is There Really a New Way to Think About

How HEED Applications Work?


Yes, and we’ll briefly describe it here.

Once arithmetic was a monopoly of priests. Now it is taught to primary-school children. Educators who understand how children learn say:

  1. make it concrete, and

  2. put it through the hands.

That’s how our model of HEED applications differs from programming. It exploits the hand-eye coordination skills we all worked so hard to acquire in the first few years of our lives.

  1. We make the application metaphor concrete by expressing applications as plumbing networks through which data flow.

  2. We build applications by using familiar manual gestures to create and modify these plumbing networks.

The flowing data metaphor for software applications is not novel. What’s new here is that it has broad applicability, it supports reuse of user-built parts, it’s scalable, and it works efficiently with the bidirectional user interfaces of HEED devices. Applications can be built incrementally and experimentally, just as people work with hand tools. Both the application and the application building tool are running simultaneously, and the user immediately sees in the application’s behavior the result of any change made to the plumbing network. Also, the user can inspect data in the running application from the application building tool.

This is true What-You-See-Is-What-You-Get interactive application development. It works smoothly and transparently because the internal working structure of an application is truly identical to its visible plumbing network; that is the essence of the invention. All this is described in U.S. Patent 6,272,672.

Here are two earlier papers describing the technology.

  1. 1.Build Software Like Housesconsiders the hand-eye construction process as a way to make application building available to non-programmers.

  2. 2.Building Event-Driven Applications With Dataflow Components” describes the technology for a technical audience.

The patent can be downloaded here. (This is an 11 megabyte pdf file.) More detailed information is at