Reverse Literate Programming
Knuth's Literate Programming system allows an author to design and describe a program hierarchically according to the method of stepwise refinement. The result is source code, which can be read sequentially like a book, section after section. This helps when reading printed source code, but on screen source code is read rather selectively like an encyclopedia. There the programmer wants a system which allows, possibly even encourages, selective browsing; zoom in at interesting points; jump to other locations according to control flow or other semantic relationships. This is the approach chosen by hypertext systems. In this paper, we demonstrate a solution, called Reverse Literate Programming, which combines the advantages of Knuth's method and of the hypertext approach. We implemented active text elements making it possible to have the source code as a hypertext screen document. A special command prints this document as a Literate Program, i.e. an essay, including documentation, pictures, and program code. The implementation was done in the Oberon system which offers powerful mechanisms for extending software in an object-oriented way.
Paper at the Software Quality Conference, Dundee, 1996.
Published in the proceedings of the Software Quality Conference, Dundee, 1996.