Nowadays, visual programming languages exist but are rarely used because textual languages dominate the field. Even though visual languages can offer many virtues – such as protection from syntax errors, concise notation for specific domains, improved readability and maintainability of programs – professional software developers tend to only employ textual programming languages.
We propose an approach to combine both textual and visual elements in a shared programming system. Developers can rely on the familiar textual representation of source code but also leverage the programming experience with a visual language as needed.
This work presents the SandBlocks framework, which enables a joint experience of visual and textual programming elements. It discusses the virtues of visual languages and related work, describes a technical integration of visual elements into the Squeak/Smalltalk programming system, sketches potential workflows in live programming systems, and illustrates applications for several domains.