Symposium on New Ideas in Programming and Reflections on Software (Onward!) is a forum for new ideas and paradigms for every aspect of programming. Welcomed are papers that propose and argue for new approaches to the creation of software as well as reflections on technology and ideas bearing on programming broadly construed.

Onward! 2018

  • Boston, Massachusetts, USA, October 17-19, 2018
  • Co-located with SPLASH 2018
  • Papers chair: Elisa Gonzalez Boix (Vrije Universiteit Brussel)
  • Essays chair: Richard P. Gabriel (Dreamsongs and Hasso Plattner Institute)
  • http://2018.splashcon.org


  • Most Notable Paper Award 2017 for 2007
    • Recipient: Sean McDirmid
    • Title: Living it up with a Live Programming Language
    • Conference: Onward! 2007
    • Paper: http://dl.acm.org/citation.cfm?id=1297073
    • Citation: The 2007 Onward! paper “Living it up with a Live Programming Language” brought the idea of Live Programming into focus by examining the necessary mechanisms, developing a good running example, displaying a contrarian attitude, and explaining it all with admirably clear writing..
  • Most Notable Paper Award 2016 for 2006
    • Recipient: Friedrich Steimann
    • Title: The Paradoxical Success of Aspect-Oriented Programming
    • Conference: Onward! 2006
    • Paper: http://dl.acm.org/citation.cfm?id=1167514
    • Citation: The 2006 Onward! Essay “The Paradoxical Success of Aspect-Oriented Programming” presents a considered and articulated exploration of the nature of aspect-oriented programming (AOP). In particular, the paper takes a hard look at the value proposed for AOP, together with an examination of what is achieved and what sacrifices appear to be necessary. The paper does not attack AOP, but rather takes a sober look at the hopes and the fears. In doing so, the paper provides a careful review that might also form the basis for progress, even if the form of progress might differ from the original promise.
  • Most Notable Paper Award 2015 for 2005
    • Recipient: Jonathan Edwards
    • Title: Subtext–Uncovering the Simplicity of Programming
    • Conference: Onward! 2005
    • Paper: http://dl.acm.org/citation.cfm?id=1094811.1094851
    • Citation: The 2005 Onward! paper “Subtext–Uncovering the Simplicity of Programming” presented a new kind of programming, unifying programs and their execution, and which helped establish Onward! as a forum for high-end, lateral thinking about programming.
  • Most Notable Paper Award 2014 for 2004
    • Recipient: Tim Sheard
    • Title: Languages of the Future
    • Conference: Onward! 2004
    • Paper: http://dl.acm.org/citation.cfm?id=1052883.1052897
    • Citation: The 2004 Onward! paper “Languages of the Future” pioneered the idea of lightweight dependently-typed programming, and idea that has since found its way into several languages, and continues to progress today. This paper is notable for bringing together complex ideas in a compelling way; pointing to how they could be incorporated into “ordinary” languages; and influencing the practical world of software development with this pearl of a design.
  • Most Notable Paper Award 2013 for 2003
    • Recipient: Martin Rinard
    • Title: Acceptability-oriented Computing
    • Conference: Onward! 2003
    • Paper: http://dl.acm.org/citation.cfm?doid=949344.949402
    • Citation: The 2003 Onward! paper “Acceptability-Oriented Computing” introduced the approach of defining the boundaries of acceptable program behavior for a software system, and then augmenting the original system by layering components to enforce those boundaries—this instead of attempting to construct a completely error-free system. This paper led to a still-expanding series of papers exploring this approach, its capabilities, and its benefits.
  • Most Notable Paper Award 2012 for 2002
    • Recipients: James Noble and Robert Biddle
    • Title: Notes on Postmodern Programming
    • Conference: Onward! 2002
    • Paper: http://dreamsongs.com/Files/Onward!Proceedings.pdf
    • Citation: The 2002 Onward! paper “Notes on Postmodern Programming” uses postmodern concepts to understand contemporary programming, especially as software grows in scale and design is dispersed to a diversity of stakeholders. This paper is notable because it triggered a storm of immediate responses and ongoing discussion on the Web; it introduced the essay genre to the programming community and cut the path that led to a new technical track at Onward! (Essays); and it stated for the first time the philosophical model of at-scale software development that dominates today.

Past Events

Steering Committee Members


  • Robert Hirschfeld, Hasso Plattner Institute Potsdam, Germany (SC Chair)
  • Robert Biddle, Carleton University, Canada (Essays Chair 2017)
  • Richard P. Gabriel, Dreamsongs and Hasso Plattner Institute, USA (Essays Chair 2018)
  • Elisa Gonzalez Boix, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Belgium (Papers Chair 2018)
  • Cristina Videira Lopes, University of California at Irvine, USA (Essays Chair 2016)
  • Gail Murphy, University of British Columbia, Canada (Papers Chair 2015, SPLASH General Chair 2017)
  • Emerson Murphy-Hill, North Carolina State University, USA (Papers Chair 2016)
  • Kevin Sullivan, University of Virginia, USA (Past SC Chair 2015)
  • Peter Thiemann, University of Freiburg, Germany (SIGPLAN)
  • Emina Torlak, University of Washington, USA (Papers Chair 2017)
  • Eelco Visser, Delft University of Technology, The Netherlands (Papers Chair 2011, SPLASH General Chair 2016)
  • Jan Vitek, Northeastern University, USA (SPLASH General Chair 2018)


  • Jonathan Aldrich, Carnegie Mellon University, USA
  • Elisa Baniassad, Australian National University, Australia (SC Chair)
  • Andrew Black, Portland State University, USA
  • Bernd Bruegge, TU München, Germany
  • Siobhán Clarke, Trinity College, Ireland
  • Yvonne Coady, University of Victoria, Canada
  • Geoff A. Cohen, Elysium Digital, USA
  • Jonathan Edwards, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA
  • Richard P. Gabriel, IBM Research, USA (SC Chair, Founder)
  • Jeremy Gibbons, University of Oxford, UK (SIGPLAN)
  • Antony Hosking, Purdue University, USA
  • Shriram Krishnamurthi, Brown University, USA
  • James Noble, Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand
  • Dirk Riehle, Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg, Germany
  • Guy L. Steele Jr., Oracle Labs, USA