First Issued: March 2004 (in 4 sections)
Reissued: 20 August 2012
Revised (substantive): n/a
Part I: Editor’s Introduction to an informational packet on D-Charts from the 1970s
-CHARTS — a style of flowchart using structured control symbols — are the little-known invention of Professor Edsger W. Dijkstra, a prominent Dutch computer scientist. They were a topic of interest in November 2003 on the InfoDesign-Café discussion list (sadly, this list was deactivated in August 2011), at which time I promised to make available an old packet of materials I had on the subject (mostly poor copies of poor copies).
The original information packet was compiled by an electronics engineer, Steve White, and given to me in the early 1980s. In its original form, the photocopied information included 3 items:
• an unattributed (possibly by Steve) 6-page typescript, dated 26 March 1980, giving a simple overview of D-charts and D-charting
• an article, c.1978, titled “D-Charts,” by Kim Harris: this was a 3-page reprint of an article (pp. 30-32) published in the journal of the FORTH Interest Group from the San Carlos, California area (given address in 1978: P. O. Box 1105, San Carlos, CA 94070). The reprint I have is undated, but the last page included a letter to the editor dated 3 November 1978.
• a 15-page typescript, titled “D-Charts,” also by Kim Harris, dated September 1976.
To Steve’s original packet, I have appended a 4th item: five sample D-charts from the technical documentation for the command-and-control software of a remotely-operated deepsea vehicle system. While the working D-charts aren’t pretty to look at, they were so easy to produce and revise, that they quickly became indispensable design and development tools.
Because the photocopied materials of the original package are unreadable in places, I transcribed the text for HTML publication, but retained the hand-drawn sketches and typed charts from the original, spot-cleaning and reformatting them for reproduction here, rather than redrawing them. I believe the cruder drawings better capture the processive nature and flexibility of the D-chart format, and may encourage viewers to similarly dash off their own D-charts, without having to worry about drawing more perfectly proportioned shapes and graphs.
NOTE: The digital edition of D-chart texts (in Part II) has not yet been updated. It retains the original format and styling of the first issue of the HTML transcript in 2004. To learn more about 2012 changes to e-publication formats, visit She-philosopher.com’s “A Note on Site Design” page.
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