The way we visually present code today would do little to surprise the first owner of the 1955 IBM typewriter that introduced the Courier typeface. Since then, we’ve gained little more than bigger monitors, syntax colouring and better monospace typefaces. Meanwhile, layout and typography, already centuries old during the desktop publishing revolution thirty years ago, are the basis for how we read all kinds of text that aren’t code.
The goal of this talk is to reconsider what code looks like, and why programmers’ tools seem stuck in the 1970s. This talk first explores how layout and typography can make code beautiful, and then considers the disruptive potential of visual programming. The most important impact of both trends turns out to be code readability. After all, as Knuth pointed out, ‘Programs are meant to be read by humans, and only incidentally for computers to execute.’