Onward! Essays is looking for clear and compelling pieces of writing about topics important to the software community.

An essay can be an exploration of a topic, its impact, or the circumstances of its creation; it can present a personal view of what is, explore a terrain, or lead the reader in an act of discovery; it can be a philosophical digression or a deep analysis. It can describe a personal journey, perhaps that by which the author reached an understanding of such a topic. The subject area should be interpreted broadly and can include the relationship of software to human endeavors, or its philosophical, sociological, psychological, historical, or anthropological underpinnings.

Onward! Essays is reaching out not only to experienced academics but also to graduate students for constructive criticism of current software development technology and practices, and for the presentation of ideas that could change the realm of software development. Practitioners who are dissatisfied with the state of our art are also encouraged to share insights about how to reform software development, perhaps by presenting detailed examples of a new approach, demonstrating concrete benefits and potential risks.

Onward! Essays is not looking for research-as-usual papers with rigorous validation (such as theorems or experiments). Onward! Essays accepts less rigorous methods of validation; however, regardless of its form or topic, the essay must have “meat”. It must must offer some insight or convincing argument; the reader should be left — perhaps after some reflection — in no doubt what the claimed insight or argument is. The use of worked-out examples to support new ideas is strongly encouraged.

Wed 28 Oct

15:30 - 17:00: Onward! Essays - Session 1 at Grand Station 2
Chair(s): Richard P. Gabriel
onward2015-essays144604260000015:30 - 16:15
DOI Media Attached
onward2015-essays144604530000016:15 - 17:00

Thu 29 Oct

10:30 - 12:00: Onward! Essays - Session 2 at Grand Station 3-5
Chair(s): Stephen Kell
onward2015-essays144611100000010:30 - 11:15
onward2015-essays144611370000011:15 - 12:00

Call for Submissions

Selection Process

Onward! Essays submissions are peer-reviewed. Accepted essays will appear in the Onward! Proceedings in the ACM Digital Library. Onward! Essays will follow a two-phase review process. The first reviewing phase assesses the essay and results in the selection of a subset of submissions that are either accepted as-is or deemed potentially acceptable. All other submissions will be rejected in this phase.

Authors of potentially accepted essays will be requested to improve specific aspects of their work. The second submission should reflect the revision requests sent to the authors. To that end, the second submission must be accompanied by a cover letter mapping each revision request to specific parts of the submission. The second and final reviewing phase assesses how the concrete revision requests have been acted upon by the authors, and improve the original submission. Revisions that do not address the reviewers’ requests or significantly lessen the contributions of the work may lead to a rejection.


Because Onward! Essays encourages submissions that describe early-stage ideas with limited validation, it is expected that subsequent versions will be published reporting on the fleshed-out ideas with full validations. Onward! essays must therefore conform to both ACM Policy on Prior Publication and Simultaneous Submissions and the SIGPLAN Re-publication Policy. Submissions are single-blind (i.e., authors are not anonymous).

Submissions should use the ACM SIGPLAN Conference Format with 10 point fonts. The main part of the essay should not be longer than 14 pages. There is no page limit for appendices, and, therefore, for the overall submission. If the essay is accepted, the final submission will be limited to 20 pages, including appendices. The essay can be enhanced by other pieces of art such as photos or film. Films should be submitted in AVI or MOV format.

Submission Site



Authors should note that accepted essays will be available in the ACM Digital Library as early as October 2, 2015. The official publication date is the date the proceedings are made available in the ACM Digital Library. The official publication date affects the deadline for any patent filings related to published work.