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Programming Education

New Programming Languages Come From Designers 435

Posted by Soulskill
from the sprung-fully-formed-from-their-beards dept.
eldavojohn writes "A very lengthy and somewhat meandering essay from Crista Videira Lopes has sparked off some discussion of where new programming languages come from. She's writing from the viewpoint of academia, under the premise that new languages don't come from academia. And they've been steadily progressing outside of large companies (with the exception of Java and .NET) into the bedrooms and hobbies of people she identifies as 'designers' or 'lone programmers' instead of groups of 'researchers.' Examples include PHP by Rasmus Lerdorf, JavaScript by Brenden Eich, Python by Guido van Rossum and — of course — Ruby by Yukihiro Matsumoto. The author notes that, as we escape our computational and memory bounds that once plagued programming languages in the past and marred them with ultra efficient syntax in the name of hardware, our new languages are coming from designers with seemingly little worry about the budget CPU being able to handle a large project in the new language. The piece is littered with interesting assertions like 'one striking commonality in all modern programming languages, especially the popular ones, is how little innovation there is in them!' and 'We require scientific evidence for the claimed value of experimental drugs. Should we require scientific evidence for the value of experimental software?' Is she right? Is the answer to studying modern programming languages to quantify their design as she attempts in this post? Given the response of Slashdot to Google's Dart it would appear that something is indeed missing in coercing developers that a modern language has valid offerings worthy of their time."
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New Programming Languages Come From Designers

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 07, 2012 @05:26AM (#39272965)

    All you need to create a good programming language is a beard. The more epic the beard, the better your language will be

    • Re: (Score:2, Flamebait)

      by Chrisq (894406)

      All you need to create a good programming language is a beard. The more epic the beard, the better your language will be

      I personally look forward to the zombie Muhammad [huffingtonpost.com] programming language

      • by MysteriousPreacher (702266) on Wednesday March 07, 2012 @07:49AM (#39273681) Journal

        It was tried, but failed. It had no support for graphics, and stability and a lack of standardization were major problems.

        While the majority of programs ran reasonably fine, a significant minority would deliberately crash themselves and other applications. This instability is due to a feature by which Zombie Mohammed code ensures correctness. Unlike Catholic++, Zombie Mohammed certification is very decentralized, and has reached the point at which each individual program considers itself to be the sole arbiter of correctness. When a program encounters another that doesn't adhere perfectly to its own standards, it will attempt to crash it - which normally leads to both applications being killed. Although widely claimed that Zombie Mohammed code will only attack other languages, such as Borland's Turbo Presbyterian, the truth is that Zombie Mohammed code is far more likely to kill its kin than foreign languages.

        To this day, many Zombie Mohammed developers claim their language to be stable, and that crashing programs are the result of the language being distorted or misused. Oddly enough though, the "stable" developers seem unable to explain exactly how the rogue developers' code is a misuse of the language, and are slow in condemning their actions. Even now in developed nations that have discarded archaic languages, criticism of these outdated languages attracts threats of violence - with many people and publications opting for self-censorship. Zombie Mohammed is gaining popularity in Europe, which some have likened to the idiocy of buying a top of the range modern PC in order to run Windows 3.11. Sensitivities considered, it would be a good idea if the immigration process would encourage those who wish to use modern languages. It doesn't mean that use of Zombie Mohammed in Europe should be prohibited - more than immigrants must understand that Zombie Mohammed is just one of many languages in use, and that it shall not be protected from criticism or ridicule. Really, how can they expect no criticism when they use a dysfunctional programming requiring an interpreter?

        The language remains popular in some parts of the world considered socially backwards and unsophisticated, where pretty much anything is an excuse for a flag burning angry mob. Whether Zombie Mohammed is a cause or a symptom of social retardation is unclear, and certainly such issues are not restricted to this language. One of the largest and most developed countries uses JC (albeit in thousands of variations), yet there is regular in-fighting between various schools of JC developers, and antics that baffle the rest of the developed world, such as JC developers trying to have a programing language taught in religious ed. Thankfully thus far religious leaders have presented a united front in claiming that computer programming is more suited to science than to religious education.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Relevant [khason.net].

  • Doomed (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Joce640k (829181)

    Aren't the basic programming concepts understood and defined now? All a new language can really bring to the table is a different syntax.

    The successful new 'languages' these days are those that include a big set of libraries, eg. Java and C#. People use them for the libraries more than the language. Without the libraries Java and C# are nothing more than reinventions of the UCSD p-system.

    • Re:Doomed (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 07, 2012 @05:46AM (#39273051)

      Not quite true. There are believed to be a very large number of possible models for computation, of which functional and imperative programming are but two.

      Most of them are unlikely to be particularly useful, but there is plenty of scope for new languages which exploit them.

      • Re:Doomed (Score:5, Insightful)

        by buchner.johannes (1139593) on Wednesday March 07, 2012 @07:38AM (#39273593) Homepage Journal

        I disagree. For me, there are three important points to discuss programming languages:

          1. Syntax
          2. Access
          3. Community

        ad 1) We know all about and can analyse the syntax. Fine. All the discussion happens here.
        ad 2) But what does the finest Haskell help me if I can't access a CD, Bluetooth or a XMPP server, and whether it makes a difference where I want to run the code (web server, mobile phone, mainframe, laptop). In principle, all languages are Turing-complete and equivalent, and I can write wrappers between languages, but as long as I can't *practically* do all the things I need, I'm stuck. The available libraries/access methods draw a picture of what is possible. Here C due to its age, Java with it's tendency to make package that are reusable and Python are among the best (from my experience). As an aside, .NET lacks here, and massively because there is no spirit to make libraries available to others for free causing a non-availability of free libraries.
        ad 3) A language is also dominated by its users. This is most noticable with PHP. The background of users dominates what a language should do. Also, this determines the amount of help and easy-to-access documentation. Which again makes a language popular or not.

        One individual is not capable of addressing (2). Also, whether a language is picked up by the masses (3), or whether you can build and hold this community, is not a rational, predictable process. When designing a language, you don't have full control over success.

        When comparing two languages, don't just look at (1), also look at (2) and (3).

        • Re:Doomed (Score:5, Insightful)

          by TheLink (130905) on Wednesday March 07, 2012 @08:55AM (#39274207) Journal
          1) Some programming languages are great for all the code you have to write. They are very powerful, very expressive, high performance, etc etc.

          2) Other programming languages are great for all the code you DON'T have to write! They have lots of _good_ well documented standard or defacto standard libraries, modules, so you don't actually have to write stuff for a lot of things.

          Being a crappy lazy programmer I prefer languages that satisfy both 1) and 2), but with 2) as a priority. Because I end up having to write a lot less and it's not my responsibility to document, support and fix those libraries. Yes I may have to fix or workaround some of the library bugs, but it's not really my job...

          The good libraries are written by programmers far better than me, so if I use their stuff instead of reinventing it, it means fewer bugs and higher quality.

          Of course, if you are a great programmer your priority would be 1). 2) only being a minor factor.
          • by rk (6314)

            I think you have that backwards. Good programmers know what to write; great ones know what to steal.

        • Re:Doomed (Score:4, Insightful)

          by im3w1l (2009474) on Wednesday March 07, 2012 @09:24AM (#39274485)
          4. IDEs and tools

          Does it have a wysiwyg gui designer?
          Can I hotswap code during debugging?
          Refactoring?
          Can I get documentation on a function just by hovering my mouse over it?
          Are there automated bug finders?
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by ledow (319597)

      This.

      Pretty much, after you learn your second or third programming language, they are all pretty much the same. There are some oddball ones for very specific purposes (e.g. PROLOG), but pretty much they are all the same things with different syntax and different libraries.

      Some of them are slightly more suited to different tasks (e.g. LISt Processing, etc.) but there's really not much to choose between them. I'm not a fan of the newer languages - anything that LOOKS like gobbledegook from a distance usuall

      • Re:Doomed (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 07, 2012 @06:27AM (#39273227)

        Good grief, what a profound misunderstanding of the entire field this post represents.

        If you have an interest in this field, you need to spend some serious time with Haskell and LISP before you even begin to think about writing longwinded comments about how all languages are fundamentally the same.

        It is trivially true that any program you can write in [language X] you can also write in assembler, and therefore C. If the entire field of programming languages could be summarized like this, why aren't we all using assembler?

        The insight only comes when you understand this thing called "abstraction" and why it's useful. There is a reason I use Django templates, and don't usually write HTML-producing code in C. There is a reason I use LISP when I'm doing natural language processing. I can do more work in one line of Python than you can do in 100 lines of C. The right language for the job can make two orders of magnitude difference in productivity. If you don't understand that, please, STFU.

      • by dabadab (126782)

        it's just whether it bothers to check for over-runs, abstract away certain details, make certain optimisations, etc. that makes any difference

        Pardon?... Last time I looked checks, abstraction, automatic optimisation and stuff like that were the reasons to have computer languages too.
        Unfortunately no programming language will bring world peace but none aims to do so - they are about the stuff you just trivilialized.

      • by Joce640k (829181)

        I find C++ quite obtuse too. C99 is pretty much the best compromise that I've found between gobbledegook and flexibility.

        To an extent, OOP is just a formalisation of things that function programmers have been doing for decades into a space-saving syntax.

        The big advantage of C++ over C is resource management (using "RIAA").

        With C++ you can define a smart pointer type, use STL containers and strings and everything pretty much manages itself. With C you simply can't do that. Writing big/complex programs in C is an awful lot more work than in C++.

        Exceptions too. If you're parsing a complex data file several layers deep then error handling will make C code enormously complex. With C++ you just throw an exception and let stack unwinding free all the temporary da

        • Re:Doomed (Score:5, Funny)

          by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 07, 2012 @07:48AM (#39273673)

          The big advantage of C++ over C is resource management (using "RIAA").

          I think you meant RAII (resource acquisition is initialisation), also known as SBRM (scope-bound resource management). The RIAA would just disable all your copy constructors to stop copyright infringement.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          Exceptions too. If you're parsing a complex data file several layers deep then error handling will make C code enormously complex. With C++ you just throw an exception and let stack unwinding free all the temporary data for you.

          Except that C++ exceptions are tricky beasts; this is a classic "hard to shoot yourself in the foot, but if you manage it you'll blow your leg off" situation. Aside from how easy it is to get exceptions wrong (e.g. when your exception types are part of an inheritance hierarchy), there are also hidden "gotchas" like this:

          SomeClass::~SomeClass(){
          log.print("Destroying SomeClass Object");
          }

          See the problem? Wondering why this is relevant to exception handling? The body of this destructor might throw an e

    • Re:Doomed (Score:5, Insightful)

      by TheRaven64 (641858) on Wednesday March 07, 2012 @06:05AM (#39273125) Journal

      Aren't the basic programming concepts understood and defined now? All a new language can really bring to the table is a different syntax.

      If you really believe this, then you've been stuck in Algol-derivative land for far too long.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by aaaaaaargh! (1150173)

      Aren't the basic programming concepts understood and defined now?

      Not when it comes to parallel programming with the inherent synchronization issues. Particularly the attempts to automatically parallelize seemingly sequential programs are still in their infancy and even if these are more problems of compiler optimization these need a certain amount of support in the core language such as immutable data structures in the right place or a particular synchronization model.

      But yeah, it is annoying that many recent languages are worse than what was there before in terms of rea

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Nursie (632944)

        C/C++ inherently buyy and unsafe?

        No more buggy than code written in any other language, and only unsafe in the hands of people that don't know what they're doing. Arguably these people shouldn't be allowed near any programming language anyway.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Mabhatter (126906)

      This is like arguing for good Engineering. The Efiel Tower is a great piece of engineering and applied sciences. It is also a terrible house or car factory.

      What these "bad" languages provide are tools to do a TASK well. The classic case of a well designed and engineered language would be Java. The underlying computer science is excellent.... But it doesn't SOLVE PROBLEMS PROGRAMMERS ACTUALLY HAVE. Java is like a store full of Craftsman tools of every type.. A langauge like Perl is a master lockpicker's t

      • What these "bad" languages provide are tools to do a TASK well.

        Agreed. The language is usually designed to do a task that the designer needs done, e.g. Larry Wall invented Perl to solve problems in that his available tools didn't do as well.

        Or at least, didn't fit his working style. It seems most languages are conceived to fit with the developer's working style, which makes sense as you usually prefer to use a tool that works well for you. If it works well for others too, so much the better.

    • by cptdondo (59460)

      I learned to program at a time when structured programming was just coming into view. There was a huge amount of experimentation going on. I still think fondly of languages like SNOBOL, which was absolutely awesome in its text handling. Most of the regex concepts were tried and tested in SNOBOL.

      Seems like a lot of the new languages are scripting languages, written to scratch an itch; sometimes they stick. NASAL comes to mind. Great scripting, limited applicability.

      I really wish that people would take of

    • It's a little more than just libraries... but the general point is true. It is also the tools, debugger, documentation, compiled format, general programming environment.

      For example, one of the major differences between Java/C# and C/C++ is that C/C++ says nothing about how the code is actually compiled. Whereas Java/C# specify how their compiled output is specified (as they are tied to a runtime platform). This makes things like importing libraries trivial in c#/Java. Just grab the library and click imp

  • C isn't dead...yet. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Well there is always been two sides of the medal balancing each other - convenience and performance, and i doubt it will ever change. And i think Ruby is really stands apart from other mentioned languages, a lot more sophisticated and carefully designed.

    • by durrr (1316311) on Wednesday March 07, 2012 @05:55AM (#39273085)

      Convenient programming should be prioritized nowadays, most people at an entry level don't plan to code anything massive and performance critical anyway.
      While I do love ruby(and processing, and ruby processing) I think there's a lot of room for improvment in convenience, perhaps at a massive expense of performance, but most people have a core or two, or five sitting idle most of the time anyway.

      Ideally, programming should be a playground accessible to all, not like today where it's more of a military discipline camp accessible to all.

      • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Wednesday March 07, 2012 @06:10AM (#39273149) Journal
        It's also worth remembering that performance doesn't mean the same as it used to. An Erlang program, for example, typically runs at about a tenth the speed of a C program doing the same thing... when you have one core. On the other hand, it's pretty easy to write Erlang programs that scale up to 1024 processors (I've written Erlang code that, without any special effort, scaled almost linearly when moved from my single-core laptop to a 64-processor SGI machine and the profiling data indicated that the load was still pretty evenly distributed between Erlang processes so going to 512 or more CPUs would have been easy). When even mobile phones are multicore, this matters a lot more than single-threaded performance. There are lots of things in C that make it very difficult to get good performance when you go beyond about 16 threads (e.g. no differentiation between thread-private and shared data, no immutable-after-creation data types) but which were not a problem for single-threaded performance.
        • by bertok (226922)

          Good grief... so you're saying that by using Erlang you need a minimum 20 cores to get a measly 2x speed-up over a single-threaded program, which is probably easier to write too?

          Multi-threaded programming is not unique to Erlang, writing parallel code in Java, C#, or even C++ is not exactly rocket surgery, so the comparison to strictly single-threaded code is unfair. I can get a program in any one of those languages to scale up to at least hundreds processors without breaking a sweat. Heck, any web applicat

          • It's only the crappy open-source platforms written by non-professionals that struggle to scale, which is why Erlang

            Uh, what? You realise that Erlang is from Ericsson and was specifically designed for high-availability systems? If you've made a telephone call in the last 10 years, odds are that at least one leg was routed by some Erlang code...

            • by gl4ss (559668)

              It's only the crappy open-source platforms written by non-professionals that struggle to scale, which is why Erlang

              Uh, what? You realise that Erlang is from Ericsson and was specifically designed for high-availability systems? If you've made a telephone call in the last 10 years, odds are that at least one leg was routed by some Erlang code...

              from the paren-parentt: "The real benefit of Erlang is not speed, but reliability and online maintainability. It's designed for non-stop systems where uptime is more important than performance. This is explicitly stated in its documentation as the primary design goal of the language! Using Erlang to improve the performance of code is asinine. If speed matters, any of the three popular languages will run circles around Erlang."

              the point of the rebuttal was that erlang is no magic bullet that would make your

              • by bertok (226922)

                I phrased that part of my point somewhat poorly: my point was that Erlang looks good to programmers used to shitty languages like PHP. Erlang itself is a good language that is well designed for a specific task.

                When you're used to using only a single blunt instrument, everything looks better in comparison, even a tool that's still not the appropriate one for the task at hand.

        • by Viol8 (599362) on Wednesday March 07, 2012 @07:17AM (#39273453)

          "There are lots of things in C that make it very difficult to get good performance when you go beyond about 16 threads"

          What on earth are you on about? The language has nothing to do with threading, thats down to the OS. The pthreads API on unix scales to any number of threads and if the threads arn't being spread evenly among cores than thats down to a problem in the OS kernel , not the C library.

          Also I suspect Erlang is a managed language and would therefor probably be pretty hopeless when used for multi process as opposed to multi threaded.

          • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Wednesday March 07, 2012 @07:22AM (#39273463) Journal

            What on earth are you on about? The language has nothing to do with threading, thats down to the OS

            Nonsense. Well, sure, if you have 1024 threads doing totally unrelated things then the language doesn't matter, but then you may as well be using separate OS processes and getting some isolation for free.

            Back in the real world, threads need to communicate and they need to share data. How the language represents this has a massive impact on scalability.

          • What on earth are you on about? The language has nothing to do with threading, thats down to the OS. The pthreads API on unix scales to any number of threads and if the threads arn't being spread evenly among cores than thats down to a problem in the OS kernel , not the C library.

            Not even close. Erlang even uses it's own threading model since Posix threads are much too heavy weight. You can have (perhaps) a thousand threads, but hundreds of thousands; forget it. And a typical "telecom router" (like the AXD 301) Erlang implementation typically has a million or more running.

            Also I suspect Erlang is a managed language and would therefor probably be pretty hopeless when used for multi process as opposed to multi threaded.

            I don't know what you mean exactly by "managed" here, but no. Erlang was built for dependability, i.e. situations where you need more than one computer. It's built on message passing, and hence works just as well (

      • by alex67500 (1609333) on Wednesday March 07, 2012 @06:34AM (#39273249)

        Ideally, programming should be a playground accessible to all, not like today where it's more of a military discipline camp accessible to all.

        I very strongly disagree. Good programming can't allow for lack of discipline. People who go for more "elaborate" languages, with loads of libraries available, should be forced to understand what goes on behind the scenes.

        I remember a researcher in a biotech company I used to work for, who tried to get help on forums on the Internet, and published parts of her ruby code (she'd had a 4 hour lessons of ruby once at university). The code included (read-only) account passwords to a research database and her own AD password in the company. Plus the variable names left little doubt as to what she was working on at the time.

        Bottom line is: she didn't know what she was doing, but someone trusted her with code, and put the company's research at risk. So no, programming is not a playground, it's a serious matter. And as far as you don't understand what a buffer overflow is (and a load of other things), your employer shouldn't allow you to code.

        • by durrr (1316311) on Wednesday March 07, 2012 @07:09AM (#39273413)

          I did not advocate abolishing good coding practice or the "hard" languages, or intelligent thought.

          I mean there ought to be a programming language my little sister could use casually. An intially level and smoothly steepning ramp to ease users into the world of coding. Not the current case where it's pretty much a solid veritical wall that is only slowly chipped down.

          Example of inexperienced people doing stupid thing with professional grade stuff is common, your example is equivalent to some dense person in a workshop that ruins some woodworking tool by putting metal it in. Which is not an argument for banning all entry grade powertools. It's just an anecdote about a stupid guy, or girl in your case.

          • I mean there ought to be a programming language my little sister could use casually. An intially level and smoothly steepning ramp to ease users into the world of coding.

            MIT Scratch

        • "o no, programming is not a playground, it's a serious matter. And as far as you don't understand what a buffer overflow is (and a load of other things), your employer shouldn't allow you to code."

          Amen to that. If only more people had the same views. Code is what keeps modern society running and the last thing thats needed is amateur hour when writing in critical systems. Just because any idiot can write simple code with a bit of training doesn't mean any idiot SHOULD be writing code. Any idiot could probab

        • Many people... not just employers don't understand the details of someone else''s craft.

          I don't really understand the details of what my mechanic does. I don't really understand the details of a pharmacist's job. I don't really understand the details of a home repair/contractor/plumber/electrician person.

          To me, a pharmacist seems like a glorified cashier. All conflicting medications can just be looked at in a database.

          But what do I know...

          I'm sure to someone else, the care I put into my craft is just ext

  • by DarkOx (621550) on Wednesday March 07, 2012 @05:53AM (#39273077) Journal

    Ruby and python are really just variants of Object BASIC yes they have their unique syntax sugar and slight twists like Ruby where everything is a object even things like literal ints. None of that much matters having an itor on something like 5 does not really alter the design of my program it's just little shorter to type than for I=0 to 5; dosomething(I); endfor.

    None of this bad as developer I rather like it, but I agree with the author it's not really innovative

    • slight twists like Ruby where everything is a object even things like literal ints

      Uh, slight twists? You mean something Ruby copied from Smalltalk, i.e. the first object oriented programming language? That's not a new feature or a twist, that's a return to older ideas. Ruby is Smalltalk with some extra convoluted syntax tacked on top.

  • by Compaqt (1758360) on Wednesday March 07, 2012 @05:54AM (#39273079) Homepage

    > 'one striking commonality in all modern programming languages, especially the popular ones, is how little innovation there is in them!'

    http://c2.com/cgi/wiki?GreenspunsTenthRuleOfProgramming [c2.com]

    "Every sufficiently complex application/language/tool will either have to use Lisp or reinvent it the hard way."

    So why do people (hotshots) keep reinventing the wheel, instead of contributing to libraries for LISP and/or Scheme?

    For non-hotshots, get back to rowing at bottom of the ship with PHP and Java business-logic oars!

    • by jelle (14827)

      (((((*what))) are(((you)))saying)))?((((there))))?

  • Wrong premise (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 07, 2012 @05:58AM (#39273093)

    >under the premise that new languages don't come from academia

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guido_van_Rossum :

    >Van Rossum was born and grew up in the Netherlands, where he received a masters degree in mathematics and computer science from the University of Amsterdam in 1982. He later worked for various research institutes, including the Dutch Centrum Wiskunde & Informatica (CWI), Amsterdam, the United States National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), Gaithersburg, Maryland, and the Corporation for National Research Initiatives (CNRI), Reston, Virginia.

    Wrong premise.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yukihiro_Matsumoto

    >He graduated with an information science degree from University of Tsukuba, where he was a member of Ikuo Nakata's research lab on programming languages and compilers.

    Again wrong premise.

    • Re:Wrong premise (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 07, 2012 @06:19AM (#39273191)

      By "from academia" they probably meant just "pure and untainted by worldly matters".

      Some time ago, Pacal and BASIC came from professors and were quite popular until recently.

      And this one is undeniably "from academia" in literal sense:

      History

      The design of Scala started in 2001 at the Ãcole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) by Martin Odersky, following on from work on Funnel, a programming language combining ideas from functional programming and Petri nets.[5][not in citation given] Odersky had previously worked on Generic Java and javac, Sun's Java compiler.[5]

      Scala was released late 2003 / early 2004 on the Java platform, and on the .NET platform in June 2004.[3][5][6] A second version of the language, v2.0, was released in March 2006.[3]

      On 17 January 2011 the Scala team won a 5 year research grant of over â2.3 million from the European Research Council.[7] On 12 May 2011, Odersky and collaborators launched Typesafe, a company to provide commercial support, training, and services for Scala. Typesafe received $3 million investment from Greylock Partners.[8][9][10][11]

      Anyways, it's just too opinionated, from his 4 examples - PHP, JS, Python, Ruby - only PHP and JS are really widespread, with Ruby still rather rare and Python somewhere inbetween.

      And then there's this pearl:

      the languages designed by academics who are obsessed with internal consistency and correctness include a bunch of mostly dead tongues: Fortran, Cobol, Lisp, C and Smalltalk.

      TL;DR: This dude doesn't know shit about history (well, and present as well)

    • by BrentH (1154987)

      And now get off my premises!

  • by jholyhead (2505574) on Wednesday March 07, 2012 @06:06AM (#39273129)
    When someone designs a programming language to solve a problem that they have, they are designing a programming language that will likely solve the problems of a lot of other people (unless you have particularly esoteric problems).

    Matz has said that he built Ruby because he wanted a scripting language more powerful than Perl but more object oriented than Python. He solved his own need and that coincided with the needs of other people, making it a popular language.

    Design-by-committee languages tend to feel like they've taken a blind guess at what problems need to be solved without consulting the people experiencing those problems.
    • Design-by-committee languages tend to feel like they've taken a blind guess at what problems need to be solved without consulting the people experiencing those problems.

      It's not a blind guess, it's an informed guess by committee consensus, which is worse.

      "We don't have time to discuss this in committee,sweetheart.

      I am not a committee."

  • by serviscope_minor (664417) on Wednesday March 07, 2012 @06:11AM (#39273155) Journal

    "Languages designed by academics like FOTRTAN, COBOL, C"

    Were apparently desighned by academics obsessed with internal consistency and are now mostly deat tounges.

    These are contrasted with languages hacked up by people to get stuff done.

    WTF?

    FORTRAN was the first ever language and was hacked up by someone who wanted to get stuff done because ASM was too much of a pain in the neck. It was unlike the author's bizzare assertion the easiest to use language at the time of being written. That was the entire point! While its use may be on the decline, it has been in use for 55 years! And major important packages are still written in FORTRAN.

    And C? Seriously? Yet another language which was hacked up by a bunch of hackers to get stuff done. Apparently it's mostly dead. Even though it is the main implementation of 3 of the "less academic" languages listed.

    I'm surprised there isn't a "c++ is dieing haha lol!1!111" in there too. I'm glad the author never tried to argue that C++ has internal consistency (I do love C++, but...).

    And COBOL being an academic language? Oh dear.

    Conclusion: article is crap.

    • by mapkinase (958129)

      >And major important packages are still written in FORTRAN.

      Like what. I love FORTRAN as any other scientist that grew up in 70s, and there are a lot of wonderful and honorable computational biology programs in FORTRAN but I haven't heard of anything new being written in FORTRAN.

      The package I worked with in 90s was transformed into f95, but this is hardly new.

      Give us some examples of new stuff written in FORTRAN

      • Like what.

        Well, LAPACK, which is central to quite a lot of things, for one. It's not new, but development is in no way static either, especially with SCALAPACK, etc.

        I dodn't mean large new widespread things are being developed, but there are important things which are undergoing continuous development.

        Also FORTRAN is best at maths which rules it out for quite a bit of popular things. Certainly supercomputer people still work in FORTRAN for new stuff from time to time.

        Most visible programs don't do mathemati

    • by mapkinase (958129)

      >And COBOL being an academic language

      and

      >Languages designed by academics

      are essentially two opposite statements (that both can be true).

      First means that language is _used_ mostly by academics

      Second means that language is _created_ by academics.

      • are essentially two opposite statements (that both can be true).

        And both can be false :)

        Such as in the case of COBOL.

        In fact COBOL is the perfect example of a language that was designed to be easier to use (I doubt the concepts of consistency and correctness for programming languages had been crystalized into something so formal by that time). Which is why it proved to be incredibly popular for many years.

  • by Lazy Jones (8403) on Wednesday March 07, 2012 @06:26AM (#39273221) Homepage Journal
    The article seems to ignore modern compiled (and carefully crafted) languages like Scala, Limbo, Go and tries to criticize the wide adoption of scripting languages among people who aren't really pure developers (as if they mattered!) and those developers who value development speed over quality, maintainability and performance or in places where network and/or human input latency abolish any other performance concern.

    I would worry if important projects with large budgets and generous timeframes switched from Java to e.g. Ruby, but this won't happen. The existing compiled languages for such purposes are obviously very good already, so why should it matter that a new compiled-to-JS-language pops up every day?
  • So is that where someone puts a gun to your head and says "develop in my new language or else," or where you sit down to try out a new language only to discover that it's changed you into a completely different type of developer?

  • horses for courses (Score:5, Insightful)

    by HarryatRock (1494393) <harry.rutherford@btinternet.com> on Wednesday March 07, 2012 @06:32AM (#39273243) Journal

    I have programmed professionally in more than 30 languages including machine codes, assemblers, FORTRAN, COBOL, Algol, C,C++, lisp, Prolog, and a variety of "4GL"s. I have used Java and Python since retirement and I can say one thing for sure about them all. Choose the right one for the job and you're half way done, choose (or be forced into) the wrong one and you you are going to pay for it in blood, sweat and eventually tears. On at least two projects (each being more than 50 man years of design and coding effort) it was worth devising a new language with a syntax suited to the problem and writing the compiler. For some jobs, readability of the code by non IT staff can give a huge payoff, for others raw performance is the only criteria. Real time interaction with physical systems usually needs a "lower" level, C or even assembler, Complex data requires object orientated structures and for once off "need it today" jobs, Java might be the answer. Maintainability brings another load of constraints, as does the intended "longevity" of the project, and don't get me started on the whole domain of "proof of correctness".
    It is very easy to forget that a language is just a tool. If you only have a hammer you will find screwing a problem, but then you are reading this on slashdot.

    • On at least two projects (each being more than 50 man years of design and coding effort) it was worth devising a new language with a syntax suited to the problem and writing the compiler.

      Hmmmph.... I guess that's what I've been doing with .XML (and, things very much like .XML before it was named as such) all these years.

  • by hcs_$reboot (1536101) on Wednesday March 07, 2012 @06:49AM (#39273323)
    I had to create a few simple languages during my developer years. I see the creation of a language like the writing of a novel. There is a direction, a style, a set of consistent syntax and rules. C, C++ or Java are for me good examples of consistent languages, lisp and Perl also.
    And unlike the examples given in TFA, I don't think PHP represents a language created by a unique person - being too inconsistent on many respects.
  • by mapkinase (958129) on Wednesday March 07, 2012 @07:24AM (#39273481) Homepage Journal

    >New Programming Languages Come From Designers

    What does not nowadays?

  • The summary lists several popular languages as examples. Do her results hold if you include less popular, exotic, and experimental languages?

  • 'one striking commonality in all modern programming languages, especially the popular ones, is how little innovation there is in them!' and 'We require scientific evidence for the claimed value of experimental drugs. Should we require scientific evidence for the value of experimental software?' Is she right?

    Absolutely on point #1 - what dope smoking communist closet did she just stagger out of to come up with point #2? If it works and you like it, use it.

    Of course, of the languages listed (PHP, JavaScript, Python, Ruby), I've never done anything "real" in any of them (meaning, sustained development & support > 6 man months) though JavaScript is trying to weasel its way into my Qt world via Quick....

  • by Jawnn (445279) on Wednesday March 07, 2012 @07:52AM (#39273697)
    FTA:

    ...marred them with ultra efficient syntax in the name of hardware...

    I stopped reading right there.

  • by gestalt_n_pepper (991155) on Wednesday March 07, 2012 @11:37AM (#39275819)

    The fact of the matter is that not just programming languages, but entire concepts, frameworks and practices in computer science are completely untested for efficiency, human factors and most importantly, return on investment!

    Examples include:
    1) Patterns (Please include a measured, verifiable example of anyone who has saved or made money on this).
    2) Agile (See parenthetical above. Extra points on why it's better than just meeting every day and discussing the problems and schedule).
    3) The *new* programming language [insert favorite here]!
    4) Programming languages with radically different syntax and models. Please don't bother with responses like, "They're *better* because... um....(mutter mumble) ... I like them!"
    5) Unit testing (Qualifier: It is possible to make this useful, except that most developers don't and don't know how to.)

If the code and the comments disagree, then both are probably wrong. -- Norm Schryer

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