We present an evaluation update (or simply, update) algorithm for a full-featured functional programming language, which synthesizes program changes based on output changes. Intuitively, the update algorithm retraces the steps of the original evaluation, rewriting the program as needed to reconcile differences between the original and updated output values. Our approach, furthermore, allows expert users to define custom lenses that augment the update algorithm with more advanced or domain-specific program updates.
To demonstrate the utility of evaluation update, we implement the algorithm in Sketch-n-Sketch, a novel direct manipulation programming system for generating HTML documents. In Sketch-n-Sketch, the user writes an ML-style functional program to generate HTML output. When the user directly manipulates the output using the graphical user interface, the update algorithm reconciles the changes. We evaluate bidirectional evaluation in Sketch-n-Sketch by authoring ten examples comprising approximately 1400 lines of code in total. These examples demonstrate how a variety of HTML documents and applications can be developed and edited interactively in Sketch-n-Sketch, mitigating the tedious edit-run-view cycle in traditional programming environments. Thus, we believe these techniques serve as a foundation for a variety of systems to allow users to combine programming with direct manipulation.
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