Flow Diagram Programming

Source: Wikipedia

It is interesting, or maybe coincidental, that I had just left the National Instruments user conference about Graphical Programming (among other things) when I downloaded a Robert Scoble podcast interview with the principles of a new company who just launched a flow chart programming tool for high-tech programmers. (I couldn’t find a link for Scoble, but search Scobleizer on iTunes.)

The company has released No Flow JS and many companies had picked it up. A sample of the Flow Diagram Programming accompanies this post.

This brought back all the memories of flow-chart programming from the 90s. The only company still successfully pushing that paradigm to my knowledge is Opto 22. Phoenix Contact picked up the remnants of Think ‘n Do and Steeplechase many years ago. I can remember when the latter two companies thought that everyone would flock to their controllers because it was so much easier and more understandable to program in with flow charts than ladder diagram.

Unfortunately for them, engineers were afraid of the control platform–a PC. I told the CEOs for years that they should stop arguing in their ads about whose real-time operating system was better and concentrate on why engineers should switch from PLCs to the new platform. Meanwhile, Opto 22 found its niche and happily keeps customers happy with its controller and flow-chart programming.

NI uses a paradigm much like function block programming. I have programmed in LabView and recommend it over Ladder. On the other hand, I realize that there remain many thousands of technicians who are quite comfortable in Ladder. But even for those who love Structured Text, perhaps they should take a look at flow chart programming. If it’s coming to mainstream programming, could industrial be far behind?

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