With the increasing memory, speed, and graphic capabilities of desk-top software development workstations, there should be a market for tools that perform similar functions for these machines. Some of the outline processors, such as Think Tank, from Living Videotext, are a step in the right direction, but they still do not permit you to share the same sub-outline between several higher level paragraphs. The disk browser XTREE from Executive systems is another example of a tree structured visual aid, this time using limited character graphics. When coupled with a mouse, this program gives an incling of the feel for what realy powerful graphic structure browsers can do. Nexpert from Neuron Data, Goldworks from Gold Hill, and Anza from HNCC are good PC based examples of this kind of graphic development environment, but they are aimed primarily at expert systems development or neural networks. We need the same sort of tools aimed at developing embedded real-time systems, complex database applications, and multi-CPU communications networking and message handling programs.
Graphic displays are mandatory to properly show the kind of sharing of structure that occurs in the spaghetti tangles that occur in real programs. The graphic presentation displays the relationships in an immediately understood form. Seeing realy is believing. The added ability to edit the graph itself, using the mouse, allows the programmer to re-wire the interconnections in a comfortable visual setting. We are gradually getting back to the metaphor of the old plug board patch panels of the ancient punch card tabulators. Now that was real spaghetti!
Given that the spaghetti is here to stay, that it is the very stuff of which information is made, pass the Parmesan cheese, please; I've got to hide this stuff under something else. After all, I really am a good programmer; I wouldn't want anyone to think that I actualy liked spaghetti!