Forms and Forms/2

Forms/3 is a successor of Forms/2 -- a form-based language developed by Allen Ambler and Margaret Burnett -- which was in turn a successor of Forms, Dr. Ambler's first form-based language. Forms was developed in 1986-1988, and was closely related to spreadsheets, although it expanded the power of spreadsheets by including procedural abstraction. Forms/2 was Dr. Ambler's and Dr. Burnett's research language from 1989-1990. It added an explicit notion of time to the original Forms system, an expanded version of procedural abstraction, and an early proposal for event-handling, which was developed by Andreas Schoberth.


The first implementation of Forms/3 was completed in August 1991 by Margaret Burnett, as a prototype of her dissertation work with Dr. Ambler on supporting abstraction in declarative visual programming languages. Forms/3 added several programming language features that were new to visual languages, the primary ones being visual data abstraction, and the declarative approach to supporting event-related programming for Forms/3 programmers. Gerhard Viehstaedt's work on a visual approach to matrix-based programming was also done in the context of this implementation of Forms/3. The entire implementation was written in Lucid Common Lisp on a Sun/3 workstation.

The original implementation had only a partial user interface, which was implemented via low-level CLX calls to the X Library. Since arriving at Oregon State University, Dr. Burnett and her research group have completely redone the user interface, incorporating a number of new ideas in the process. The current implementation is written in Lucid Common Lisp and Garnet, and runs on Sun/SunOS, Sun/Solaris, and Hewlett-Packard workstations. The most recent gains added by the research group to this version of the implementation include automatic generalization of programs entered via direct manipulation, time travel and program steering, integrating algorithm animation capabilities into the language, and exception handling.

Last modified: August 2, 1996
Margaret M. Burnett,