Visual programming language

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An implementation of a "Hello, world!" program in the Scratch programming language

In computing, a visual programming language (VPL) is any programming language that lets users create programs by manipulating program elements graphically rather than by specifying them textually.[1][2] A VPL allows programming with visual expressions, spatial arrangements of text and graphic symbols, used either as elements of syntax or secondary notation. For example, many VPLs (known as dataflow or diagrammatic programming)[3] are based on the idea of "boxes and arrows", where boxes or other screen objects are treated as entities, connected by arrows, lines or arcs which represent relations.


VPLs may be further classified, according to the type and extent of visual expression used, into icon-based languages, form-based languages, and diagram languages. Visual programming environments provide graphical or iconic elements which can be manipulated by users in an interactive way according to some specific spatial grammar for program construction.

A visually transformed language is a non-visual language with a superimposed visual representation. Naturally visual languages have an inherent visual expression for which there is no obvious textual equivalent.[citation needed]

Current developments try to integrate the visual programming approach with dataflow programming languages to either have immediate access to the program state, resulting in online debugging, or automatic program generation and documentation. Dataflow languages also allow automatic parallelization, which is likely to become one of the greatest programming challenges of the future.[4]

The "visual languages" (Visual Basic, Visual C#, Visual J#, etc.) of the Microsoft Visual Studio IDE are not visual programming languages. All of these languages are textual and not graphical. The MS Visual Studio is a visual programming environment[clarification needed], however.

List of visual languages[edit]

The following contains a list of visual programming languages.


  • AgentSheets, easy to use game authoring and computational science authoring tool
  • Alice, an object based language used to program 3D environments.
  • App Inventor for Android, a tool for creating applications for Google Android, based on Blockly and Kawa
  • Bubble, a visual programming language to build production-ready web applications without code
  • Catrobat, a visual programming language and set of creativity tools for smartphones, tablets, and mobile browsers.
  • Etoys scripting
  • Flowgorithm, creates executable flowcharts which can be converted to several languages.
  • Hopscotch, a visual programming language for mobile touchscreen devices (available on the iPad).
  • Kodu, a visual programming tool which builds on ideas begun with Logo
  • Kojo, a programming language and integrated development environment (IDE) for computer programming and learning.
  • LARP, creates executable flowcharts, for the Windows Platform
  • Moenagade, a Java-based mouse enabled game development tool that generates code usable directly in NetBeans or Unimozer
  • Open Roberta online programming environment from Fraunhofer IAIS designed for kids
  • Raptor, creates executable flowcharts.
  • Scratch, a product of MIT designed for kids in K-12 and after school programs
  • Sketchware, an Android app to directly develop apps on your Android device.
  • Snap!, an extension of Scratch with first class procedures and lists which is used for teaching by UC Berkeley (browser-based reimplementation of BYOB (programming language))
  • Stagecast Creator, formerly Apple's Cocoa: Internet Authoring for Kids
  • StarLogo, an agent-based simulation language developed by Mitchel Resnick, Eric Klopfer, and others at MIT Media Lab. It is an extension of the Logo programming language, a dialect of Lisp.
  • ToonTalk, programming system for children
  • Visual Logic, creates executable flowcharts.


  • AudioMulch, an audio signal flow based sound and music creation environment
  • Blender (software), the open source 3D graphics package, includes a "node editor" to create shading programs as graphs. Also, custom nodes allows create systems as sverchok, blendgraph or other.
  • Cameleon, graphical functional language
  • Clickteam's The games factory/Multimedia fusion series, environments made for visually developing games
  • Autodesk Dynamo, a generative modeling interface for Revit
  • EyesWeb, an open platform to support the design and development of real-time multimodal systems and interfaces
  • Filter Forge Node based filter generation for image processing.
  • Grasshopper 3d, a generative modeling interface for Rhinoceros 3D
  • Kyma (sound design language), a visual programming language for sound design used by musicians, researchers, and sound designers.
  • LiveBlox Graphics programming engine, with audio, video, computer vision that can export standalone applications
  • Mama (software) – a programming language and IDE for building 3D animations and games
  • Max (software), visual programming environment for building interactive, real-time music and multimedia applications
  • Nodal, a node-based generative programming software application for music composition
  • Nuke, a node-based visual programming software for visual effects compositing by The Foundry powered by Tcl, Python and Blink-script.
  • OpenMusic, a visual programming language for music composition (based on Common Lisp Object System (CLOS)) applications, and mobile applications
  • Pure Data (Pd) is a visual programming language developed for creating interactive computer music and multimedia works.
  • Quartz Composer, a language for processing and rendering graphical data (macOS)
  • Reaktor, a DSP and MIDI-processing language by Native Instruments
  • Scala Multimedia Authoring suite and complete multimedia system for AmigaOS and Windows
  • Softimage,with ICE Interactive Creative Environment.
  • SynthEdit, a Synthesizer construction tool using a VPL.
  • TouchDesigner, visual programming language for real-time multimedia content
  • Virtools, a middleware used to create interactive 3D experiences
  • WireFusion, visual programming environment for creating interactive 3D web presentations
  • Vsxu, music visual / real-time 3D graphics generation (Windows, GNU/Linux, and macOS)
  • vvvv, real-time video synthesis

Video games[edit]

  • Antares Universe is a visual environment/plugin to develop in Unity.
  • Blender Game Engine (Graphical logic editor)
  • Construct 2 is an HTML5-based 2D game editor, developed by Scirra Ltd.
  • CryEngine has a node-based visual programming language called FlowGraph.
  • GameMaker: Studio, has a drag and drop game creation system developed by YoYo Games.
  • GameSalad is a visual game creation tool developed by GameSalad, Inc.
  • Godot, in-house open source MIT Licensed game development software made by OKAM Studio.
  • Human Resource Machine is a visual programming-based puzzle game developed by Tomorrow Corporation.
  • Kodu, a software designed to program games with a 3D Interface developed by Microsoft Research.
  • Stencyl, a video game creation tool.
  • Unity has an editor extension on the Unity Asset Store called Playmaker made by Hutong Games.
  • Unreal Engine 4 has a node-based visual programming language called Blueprints.

Many modern video games make use of behavior trees, which are in principle a family of simple programming languages designed to model behaviors for non-player characters. The behaviors are modeled as trees, and are often edited in graphical editors.

Systems / simulation[edit]


  • Automator
  • CiMPLE, Visual Programming Language by ThinkLABs for teaching robotics
  • Flow a graphical integration language used in the webMethods platform
  • Pipeline Pilot is a scientific visual and dataflow programming language, and the authoring tool for the Accelrys Enterprise Platform.
  • PLUS+1 GUIDE, a graphical programming environment from Sauer-Danfoss typically used for off-highway machines.
  • RapR3D, a graphical programming environment for G-Code used in machine automation.

Data warehousing / business intelligence[edit]


  • Kwikpoint, an isotype visual translator created by Alan Stillman
  • Lava, an experimental object oriented RAD language
  • Limnor, a general purpose programming system. Limnor Studio is an IDE for rapid software development.
  • Morphic (software), makes it easier to build and edit graphical objects by direct manipulation and from within programs; the whole Self (programming language) programming environment is built using Morphic
  • StreamBase Systems, StreamBase EventFlow is a visual programming language for processing streaming events
  • Tersus, an open source platform for the development of rich web applications by visually defining user interface, client side behavior and server side processing
  • TouchDevelop, programming for mobile devices
  • WebML, is a visual language for designing complex data-intensive Web applications that can be automatically generated
  • Yahoo! Pipes is a visual data-flow programming system to process web data [7]
  • YAWL, graphical workflow language


Visual styles[edit]

See also[edit]


This article was originally based on material from the Free On-line Dictionary of Computing, used with permission. Update as needed.

External links[edit]