What is a 5GL?

Trying to pin down the definition of a 5GL or 5th Generation Programming Language proved harder than expected.

There seems to be some noise in support of a graphical development interface to create source language that is usually compiled with a 3GL or 4GL language compiler.

3GLS required a considerable level of programming knowledge.  4GLs use more business like language but still seem to need to follow syntax.

My view of the next (5th) generation is one of ordinary non technical people being able to write computer applications that make real events happen and link these together to form a process.  The need for syntax is greatly reduced if pictures are used instead of text.  So there are many flowcharting tools out there which can capture a process but now there is a growing number that can make code free links to events/objects for example that result in real process actions.

I don’t know if this constitutes a 5GL or not but it’s exciting stuff.  My company has focussed this technology on automating multi-system business processes in retail banks and other large enterprises.  But there must be thousands of other applications – I’d be interested to hear of any you know of.

Personally as a next step I am looking forward to 6GLs, where I think of something and it happens…  I am not aware of anybody working in this field just yet.

2 Responses to “What is a 5GL?”

  1. Anon Says:

    Someone on wikipedia has already writtern an article discussing what they think a 5GL is, what are your thoughts on this article? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/5GL

  2. Alastair Bathgate Says:

    I think that someone skipped a generation! The AI based 5GL described on Wikipedia and subject of much expensive academic research is closer to my concept of a 6GL where you think of something and it happens (or the computer works it out for itself). In phase one of rolling out a 6GL I accept that we may have to wear helmets as “thought interpreters”.
    Back to the real world and if a 4GL statement might look like this:
    EXTRACT ALL CUSTOMERS WHERE “PREVIOUS PURCHASES” TOTAL MORE THAN $1000
    (Which still relies on correct syntax), I would argue that a 5GL visualises this making it much easier for a non technical person to write an application.

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