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Communications of the ACM

The future of programming


The nature of programming is changing. These changes will accelerate as improved software development practices and more sophisticated development tools and environments are produced. This paper surveys the most likely changes in the programming task and in the nature of software over the short term, the medium term, and the long term. In the short term, the focus is on gains in programmer productivity through improved tools and integrated development environments. In the medium term, programmers will be able to take advantage of libraries of software components and to make use of packages that generate programs automatically for certain kinds of common systems. Over the longer term, the nature of programming will change even more significantly as programmers become able to describe desired functions in a nonprocedural way, perhaps through a set of rules or formal specification languages. As these changes occur, the job of the application programmer will become increasingly analysis-oriented and software developers will be able to attack a large number of application areas which could not previously be addressed effectively.

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