Craft Practices of Live Coding Language Design

Alan Blackwell and Samuel Aaron

This paper reflects on the development process of two Live Coding languages, Blackwell’s Palimpsest and Aaron’s Sonic Pi, from the perspective of practice-led arts and craft research. Although informed by prior research in education, music, end-user programming and visual languages, these projects do not apply those principles through conventional software engineering processes or HCI techniques. As is often the case with practice-led research, the development process itself provides an opportunity for reflection on the nature of software as a craft – both for live-coding researchers, and for users of the live-coding systems that we create. In reflecting, we relate our own practice to recent perspectives on software as material, and on the role of craft as an element of interaction design research. The process that we have followed to support this analysis could be applied by other developers wishing to engage in similar reflection.