A port with boats at Old Port of Montreal, Montreal, Canada, shot just after sunset with the lit-up city in the background
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Programming languages, rich text editors, and functional programming.

What do programming languages, rich text editors, functional programming have to do with each other? They’re all about interfaces to software


I'm deeply interested in programming languages, rich text editors and functional programming. That seems like a hodge-podge of interests, but they're more related in my head than you'd think.

Programming languages <-> Functional programming: Code is really just a piece of state that we’re modifying to get the view (compiled output) to reflect what we want.

Functional programming and separate state from view in code is imo the best way to split up programs.

Programming languages <-> Rich text editors: A programming language is a developer’s interface to the computer, and a rich text editor is an interface to the computer for the user.

In both situations, we describe something which gets compiled or injected with semantic meaning by something else.

Functional programming <-> Rich text editors: Rich text editors are about having a sequence of keystrokes turned into a semantic and meaningful document. What you type in changes the state of the content, which becomes reflected by the change in the view.

Idk if that properly explains the picture I have in my head. They’re all layers of abstraction...for making things easier to reason about (so we can worry only about the highest layer of abstraction)


Editing (going down the layers):

Hardware -> Registers -> C++ (Web browser) -> DOM/JS (Web browser) -> State

Updating view (going back up the layers):

State -> DOM/JS (View) -> C++ (Web browser) -> GPU -> Hardware

Updating hardware manually is typically pretty difficult, especially to reason about at scale. Editing and understanding state, on the opposite end, should be semantic and easy.