Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Source Code Display

Why is source code display stuck in the 70s? As programmers we've parented a wide array of innovations across the spectrum of software but we still live with simple colored text as our primary means of communication. Talk about lowest common denominator! I don't know about you but I want more.


I've made a little HTML mockup of what I think code should look while being edited. I choose to use Java as the language being displayed, but the basic ideas should work for most languages; certainly the block structured ones anyway.


I used HTML and CSS for my mockup and it was pretty fun tinkering with the look. I don't expect it appeals to everyone but that's OK. What I really want is for modern editors to just auto-magically create a tagged up version of the code based on standard syntax components, like blocks and keywords and then allow us developers to design our own CSS style sheets to display it. That's just what I did, but I did it by hand.

In a real system we probably would never see the structured code, although we might want to, but the conceptual model of divs and spans, using documented CSS class names, placed around code elements would provide sufficient richness for us to develop a pretty snazzy code display CSS.

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