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Senior Project - The Manhattan Project


Ristretto: Instant Java Compiler for AgentSheets

Senior Project: 1996-1997
Jonathan Phillips, Dylan Romano, Darren Silver and Christopher Sturm

The Center for LifeLong Learning & Design (L3D) has been actively engaged in end-user programming research for several years. The results of these efforts include a number of systems based on the AgentSheets environment. AgentSheets is a programming environment written in Macintosh Common Lisp for creating agent-based visual programming languages and Sim City-like interactive simulations. Agents deal with multimodal input and output including speech and sound.

The ubiquity of the Internet coupled with the increasing popularity of the Java programming language has produced an environment that, for the first time ever, enables the creation of cross-platform, interactive, computational objects (applets) that can be easily distributed and shared via the World Wide Web. Although this technology is evolving rapidly, it is still in its infancy, and remains only accessible to experienced computer programmers. To make this technology available to the largest segment of computer users -- end-users who are non-programmers -- new programming paradigms such as Visual and Tactile Programming needed to be employed.

The proposed project was to develop an application that allows a wide range of computer users, including children, students, teachers, and professionals, with no programming experience, to create their own Sim City-like interactive simulations and games that can be accessed and shared via the World Wide Web. This involved the enhancement of AgentSheets, Visual AgenTalk (an end-user programming language for defining the behavior of simulation components) and microAgentSheets (a version of AgentSheets written in Java) so that AgentSheets is capable of generating Java applets. This allows an end-user running AgentSheets to program a new simulation using Visual AgenTalk, and then save that simulation as a collection of Java objects that can be linked with the microAgentSheets infrastructure and executed in a WWW environment.

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May 5, 2012 (14:07)