The Death of Computer Languages, The Birth of Intentional Programming

  • Charles Simonyi

MSR-TR-95-52 |

IP is currently under development at Microsoft Research. Several US Patents have been applied for, covering various aspects of the system. The system achieved complete self-sufficiency March 1, 1995, and since then all further development of IP has been performed in IP itself. The size of the system as of September 1995 was about 1.7M nodes (intention instances) in the source tree. Plans include the creation of component libraries; the support of additional legacy languages, such as C++; operational use of the system elsewhere within the company; and finally productization before the year 2000. This paper presents the idea of the intention as an abstraction mechanism, and an integrated development system which may be used to develop systems using intentions. Software encoded intentionally can be said to be immortal, in that its meaning can be sustained independently of the long term progress in programming notation and implementation techniques. The independence and self-sufficiency of intentions might well create first a market in abstractions or “language features”, followed by the long sought-after dream of a software componentry market. Legacy code can be integrated into the new paradigm with minimal or no loss of information and there are considerable prospects for “hot” re-engineering or continuous improvement, which can be performed while the legacy system is kept in operating condition.