Novels and programs (was: Re: [plt-scheme] Prereqs for robotic programming

From: Stephen Bloch (sbloch at
Date: Tue Feb 17 14:30:22 EST 2009

On Feb 17, 2009, at 12:21 PM, hendrik at wrote:

> There are authors who cannot write from an outline.  FOr them, the  
> novel
> is what they discover along the way while they are writing, and then
> they have a *huge* revision job when they finish the first draft.
> Others cannot write without an outline.
> ...
> The thing is, there are good writers in both camps.
> Are there similar phenomena in computer programming?

I'm sure you're all familiar with the concept of "exploratory  
programming", in which you don't start out with a well-defined  
problem, but you go ahead and start coding anyway.  It can be used to  
learn about the domain, to familiarize yourself with a library you'll  
need to use, to rapid-prototype a user interface, etc.  In a sense,  
even DrScheme's Interactions Pane is an example in that it encourages  
trying things as they occur to you, not necessarily according to a  
prewritten plan.

That said, "exploratory programming" can easily be taken as an excuse  
for "I don't want to bother thinking about the problem; I just want  
to see some code compile and run."

Stephen Bloch
sbloch at

Posted on the users mailing list.