A Performing Medium for Working Group Graphics

3. A COMPUTER MEDIUM FOR PERFORMING TEXT-GRAPHICS

The computer medium designed to provide the capability for the features uncovered in Section 2 is a graphics editor called vmacs5. vmacs combines the generality and agility of emacs with LISP-like processing of visual objects.

The name vmacs indicates that it was inspired by emacs [Stallman81]; is meant to co-exist with emacs; can be thought of as a collection of visual macros bound to keys and mouse buttons; and is basically a general purpose editor which can then be specialized for particular applications (like LISP mode in emacs). vmacs is for people who spend a lot of time in their graphics editor. The primary functions are it not invoked by menu to avoid visual clutter. vmacs is written partly in the PAM graphics language, which provides text-graphic objects, manipulations on them, and computing with text-graphic forms [Lakin80a, 80b, 80c].

vmacs and PAM are implemented in ZetaLISP on a Symbolics 3645. The display is approximately 1000 by 800 lines and can be used by small groups of 3-4 around a single terminal. Video projection will support larger groups. For the time being vmacs is intended to be operated by a single skilled individual.

The following Sections describe vmacs in more detail as a text-graphic manipulator for group graphics. Each Section discusses vmacs in terms of one of the key features from Section 2 (Chronological, Text-graphic, Manipulatory, Performed, Fast, Unstructured, Structured, Reflective).