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Issue 9.4


The Meaning Gradient

Buttons should speak, not process

Issue: 9.4 (May/June 2011)
Author Bio: Jens Bendig is located in Bremen, Germany. When he's not programming or producing computer animation, he might be riding across the USA on a 1986 Honda Sabre.
Article Description: No description available.
Article Length (in bytes): 24,460
Starting Page Number: 38
Article Number: 9407
Related Link(s): None

Excerpt of article text...

Software is made to provide a user with solutions to problems. But a machine just reads and writes binary patterns and does low-level logic or mathematical operations on little pieces of those patterns. What is between the meaningful world of a user and the machine-world of low-level code?

That's where we find the Meaning Gradient. The Meaning Gradient reveals what is happening within the various levels of meaning within your program (from GUI to machine-level).

If you can see the Meaning Gradient, designing and debugging is a joy because you can see the context of a low-level operation. If you can't see it, it can be really hard to do further development or maintain the program. This article is about making the Meaning Gradient more obvious for developers. (See Figure 1 for an overview chart that may make it clearer. You can also read the "Terms" sidebar for some definitions of vocabulary we'll be using throughout this article.)

The concepts here are a little abstract, so bear with me. Note that the Meaning Gradient is a structure inside the labels of your code, not a technical structure.

A Practical Example

Programmers tend to put their code into the Action Event of REALbasic controls. That's good for a quick test in a short program. But in the long run, it leads to code that's hard to maintain. It turns out to be a bad habit.

...End of Excerpt. Please purchase the magazine to read the full article.