What if you could write a program, without actually using code? Sounds interesting? That’s exactly what the folks over at WSO2 have done. At the WSO2ConUSA 2017, they announced an entirely new open source programming language. Called Ballerina, the language allows you to write programs by drawing diagrams.
Image taken from Ballerinalang.org
As you know, WSO2 creates open source integration middleware. In a world where prebuilt systems such as cloud services are already in place, developers spend most of their time creating systems out of these prebuilt modules. Calling already present libraries or services means it’s literally a plug and play method rather than developing from scratch.
This is where integration plays a pivotal role. Once developed, the developer must ensure that all components link up seamlessly. Thus far, their integration logic has been carried out in languages such as Java and Python, which are meant for other uses.
If you have ever drawn a sequence diagram, you would know how simple it is to explain a process to someone else using these. Hence, the developers as WSO2 discovered that a tool which describes what is needed via diagrams, which is then translated into code is exactly what they need. Not only can anyone explain the scenario, but they can also create integration logic with ease.
Ballerina’s formats of the visual composer or the code are completely interchangeable. Once you design the the program via the editor, you can then switch over to writing the code.
It’s still a work in progress
In its current state, Ballerina is a work in progress. There is still a number of improvements to be done in terms of speed, stability and tooling.
While it is a programming language capable of mostly anything thrown at it, it’s main purpose is integrating to apps, data and services. As their blog post says, you can use it to write a calculator app, but there are better apps for that. On the other hand, if you’re writing integration logic, then Ballerina will at some point, be the one stop language for that.
Kitt.AI for example, also offers visual composers of this nature. With Kitt.Ai’s ChatFlow platform, developers are given the tools to write a chatbot for Alexa, Facebook Messenger, Kik, Skype, Slack, Telegram and Twilio via diagrams rather than code