TryLinks: An interactive tutorial system for a cross-tier Web programming language


Links is a web programming language under development in Edinburgh aimed at simplifying web development. Conventional multi-tier applications involve programming in several languages for different layers, and the mismatches between these layers and abstractions need to be handled by the programmer, which can lead to costly errors or security vulnerabilities. In Links, programs combine all of the code of a web application in a single program, and the implementation generates appropriate JavaScript and HTML for the client, and SQL queries for the database.
However, installing and using Links is non-trivial, making it difficult for new programmers to get started and learn about Links. This paper reports on a Web-based "TryLinks" system, allowing anyone to experiment with Links without going through the installation process. TryLinks was designed with two major functionalities: an interactive Links shell that teaches the basic syntax of Links and acts as a playground, as well as a short tutorial series on how Links is used in practical web development. Tutorials can also be created or modified by administrators. We present the design and implementation of TryLinks, and conclude with discussion of lessons learned from this project and remaining challenges for Web-based tutorials for Web programming languages.

Citation information

TryLinks: An interactive tutorial system for a cross-tier Web programming language, Junao Wu, Arek Mikolajczak, and James Cheney, ProWeb 2019

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