The vmacs system for text-graphic performing
 

What if someone were crazy enough to make graphics do lisp, and then create a visual emacs for them to live in?

Hi, I'm Fred Lakin of the Performing Graphics Company.

The vmacs project is about giving people a performance medium for text graphic improvisation.

 

The goal is to build a visual instrument that is also a live coding system that is also a document editor that is also a visual telefacilitation tool.

 

Why?

Because they're all systems for text graphic manipulation with high agility requirements.

Because the commonalities synergize.

Because the differences are superficial.

Because someone should.





To narrow the focus just a bit, the first milestone is to build a visual instrument with the same agility and ready to handness that lisp hackers have enjoyed for years in emacs.

Why lisp? Programs can be visual data if you play your cards right.*

And, why emacs? Well, emacs, the favorite textual manipulator of lisp hackers, is congenial, extensible**, and most of all, agile.

But, in a performance graphics system, agility must be more than skin deep. Analogous to the experience of using a lisp/emacs system, vmacs supports and encourages nimble text graphic manipulation of all kinds, programmatic as well as manual.

And so, speaking programmatically, if I may, because graphics do lisp in vmacs      and thus can perform text graphic computation      the processing power of a visual evaluator is available with the same ready to handness as drawing and dragging.

This means on one hand that simple text graphic manipulation, the nucleus of vmacs, can naturally extend to encompass the tasks of everyday computer use:

 



And it means on the other hand that all the processing power of a full blown visual lisp is available to measure and support      to mediate      the user's text graphic performance.

 



And finally of course in the tradition and spirit of lisp/emacs, vmacs also makes a great programming environment.




* McCarthy, John, "Recursive functions of symbolic expressions and their computation by machine", Comm. ACM, 1960, vol. 3, no.4.

Inspired by jmc, we say:
``If visual programs are data, and data be the food of computation, play on; give me excess of it.''


** Stallman, Richard, "EMACS the Extensible, Customizable Self Documenting Display Editor", MIT AI Memo 519a, March 1981.

Inspired by rms, we say:
``Finally all is just folk dancing: doing the text graphic boogie today makes the new instrument for tomorrow.''


Return to papers list

Copyright 1986, 1996, 2003 PGC

Note: "vmacs" is a trademark of the Performing Graphics Company.