Become a fan of Slashdot on Facebook


Forgot your password?

Dart Is Not the Language You Think It Is 312

An anonymous reader writes "Seth Ladd has an excellent write-up of Dart: 'When Dart was originally launched, many developers mistook it for some sort of Java clone. In truth, Dart is inspired by a range of languages such as Smalltalk, Strongtalk, Erlang, C#, and JavaScript. Get past the semicolons and curly braces, and you'll see a terse language without ceremony. ... Dart understands that sometimes you just don’t feel like appeasing a ceremonial type checker. Dart’s inclusion of an optional type system means you can use type annotations when you want, or use dynamic when that’s easier. For example, you can explore a new idea without having to first think about type hierarchies. Just experiment and use var for your types. Once the idea is tested and you’re comfortable with the design, you can add type annotations."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Dart Is Not the Language You Think It Is

Comments Filter:
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 21, 2013 @07:24PM (#43788737)

    Those people always bitch about and those no one uses.

    Since I have yet to hear any complaints about Dart, I can only assume it's in the latter category and no one cares.

    • by stormboy ( 1691754 ) on Tuesday May 21, 2013 @07:50PM (#43788923)
      Get ready to hear some bitching about Dart on this thread, then review your assumption.
      • by Taco Cowboy ( 5327 ) on Tuesday May 21, 2013 @08:05PM (#43789043) Journal

        I haven't used DART yet, so I will not comment on the strength or the weakness of it

        But, all through the decades that I've been in the scene, there have been so many programming languages invented, but so few of them being used

        Some of the more widely used programming languages like C, for instance, are not perfect, but they are being used partly because of legacy, partly because of momentum, and partly because of the laziness of programmers to learn new, more useful languages

        Talking about legacy, the other day there was a piece on Cobol, and that IBM is trying to extend Cobol to the cloudsphere

        As for the languages that are not so-widely used, some of them are downright weird, but then, there are gems among them. The only downside for those few gems is that the ecology is not there to enable those few gems to become more widespread

        I guess it's kinda Darwinian game plan --- not all surviving/thriving species are perfect, and not all the extinct species are bad, either

    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 21, 2013 @07:56PM (#43788955)

      I vote for no one cares.

      I for one never encountered a situation where I thought "gee, if only I could prototype without types!". Types matter. When solving even the most basic data processing problem there's "input" and "output". Specifications are very clear on the formatting and types. What happens in between is dictated by those types.

      Typeless programming in shorthand for lazy markup.

      • I'm not sure why you were modded Troll. I tend to agree. Types are no good if they are not enforced. Either use a language that doesn't enforce typing or use one that does. This in between approach is indeed lazy.

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Wait a minute. I'm a programmer BECAUSE I'm lazy.

      • by Pseudonym ( 62607 ) on Tuesday May 21, 2013 @10:04PM (#43789875)

        Yeah, exactly. What the writeup calls "appeasing a ceremonial type checker" is more properly called "debugging".

        Don't get me wrong, I like the thrill of the chase, the satisfaction of tracking down a really hard bug, as much as anyone. But I like programming even more. Using a well-designed type checker, I can find bugs in my program and convince myself that I'm programming rather than debugging.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by H0p313ss ( 811249 )

          Yeah, exactly. What the writeup calls "appeasing a ceremonial type checker" is more properly called "debugging".

          Don't get me wrong, I like the thrill of the chase, the satisfaction of tracking down a really hard bug, as much as anyone. But I like programming even more. Using a well-designed type checker, I can find bugs in my program and convince myself that I'm programming rather than debugging.

          Agreed. The languages I've used the most would be Smalltalk, C++, Javascript and Java (in rough chronological order, some overlaps), two are weak typed two are strong typed.

          After a day grinding out hundreds of lines of productive Java trying to do anything in javascript just makes me want to drown kittens... well perhaps kittens named Brandon Eich. (Sorry Brandon... I've just seen too many sins committed with your language.)

          • Sometimes the type system gives more overhead than safety. A wonderful satirical example in Java: []

            You also have to weigh developer feedback time. I've developed web applications with Java Struts, coding directly to the Java Servlet API, Play Framework 1.x, and Play Framework 2.x (in Java, not Scala), and Python with Twistd. In order of speed of development of correct (i.e. in production without known bugs) code, they are from fastest to slowest: P
  • Unadvantages! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Shaiku ( 1045292 ) on Tuesday May 21, 2013 @07:34PM (#43788809)

    Once the idea is tested and youâ(TM)re comfortable with the design, you can add type annotations.

    I've been doing this with comments since 1999 and it works great! Of course I still haven't gotten around to that final step of going back and adding all those comments but I love the flexibility!

    Unless you like bugs, type-checking is a good thing. Lack of type enforcement encourages what -- lack of forethought?

    • Once the idea is tested and youâ(TM)re comfortable with the design, you can add type annotations.

      I've been doing this with comments since 1999 and it works great! Of course I still haven't gotten around to that final step of going back and adding all those comments but I love the flexibility!

      Unless you like bugs, type-checking is a good thing. Lack of type enforcement encourages what -- lack of forethought?

      Exactly, this is one of the things that crippled large smalltalk projects back in the day; it was almost impossible to figure out how to call someone elses code without invoking the wrath of doesNotUnderstand.

      • Re:Unadvantages! (Score:5, Interesting)

        by dreadway ( 459923 ) on Tuesday May 21, 2013 @10:47PM (#43790107)

        IMO the thing which crippled large Smalltalk projects was the corporate IT market embracing programming technologies which looked more like C. You had to fight hard to make Smalltalk code look like a procedural language, which a larger body of programmers were already used to. Java, C++, and C# look more like C, so I guess they have that going for them.

        Smalltalk is a strongly-typed, late-binding language. Smalltalk's Object>>#doesNotUnderstand behavior is a hindrance for production-quality code only to the extent that your programmers are unwilling or unable to read and use someone else's API. Oh, and maybe your system design should not suck, no matter what programming technology is involved.

        I worked for years as a Smalltalk programmer on big, corporate IT systems involving hundreds of programmers and handling hundreds of millions of $$$ per day in production, but corporate IT has had a mood swing and now our systems mostly use the early-binding programming technologies. I like being gainfully employed, but am not persuaded the tradeoffs of the extra code, convoluted syntax constructions, and tool paradigms actually represent any improvements. And finally, believe it or not, but the less senior programmers apparently have difficulty reading and understanding the code (even with its early-binding features) written by far more experienced programmers than myself, which in turn results in numerous and varied production defects. Who would have thunk it, eh?

    • It lets you throw something together quickly for a proof of concept. After you throw in the type annotations the compiler, lets you know how sloppy you are and why you should use static typing. (YMMV, but generally not in a system of any serious complexity)

      • Re:Unadvantages! (Score:5, Insightful)

        by farble1670 ( 803356 ) on Tuesday May 21, 2013 @08:22PM (#43789163)

        It lets you throw something together quickly for a proof of concept

        the thing about type safety ... even if you use a non-type safe language, you still have to get it right or your crap will crash, or worse, run and do something unexpected. you still need to be type safe, it's just that you have to find all your bugs at runtime in stead of compile time. do we need to discuss why it's better to catch bugs at compile time?

        • How many not type safe languages do you know?

        • That's exactly what the latter part of my post was saying, although my sense of humour is apparently lacking. I have seen some nice work done in dynamically typed languages, but in general you need to unit test the living crap out of it (which you really should do anyway), and you can generally do the same thing with interfaces if you design well (single responsibility principle & interface segregation).

        • The best is when you don't need to annotate the types, but you have type safety anyway, like Haskell. Unfortunately you can't have perfect type inference and subtyping in the same type system... The advantage of not having static types, though, is that it is a heck of a lot faster to program, as well as much easier to extend. You just have to be able to keep the design in your head.
    • Re:Unadvantages! (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Longjmp ( 632577 ) on Tuesday May 21, 2013 @08:54PM (#43789371)

      Unless you like bugs, type-checking is a good thing. Lack of type enforcement encourages what -- lack of forethought?

      My thoughts exactly. Any language that makes you believe you can leave the "thinking" to the compiler is the wrong approach.
      Might as well program the next Mars rover in PHP.

      (not that PHP is bad as such, it just makes lazy programmers more lazy)

      • by lennier ( 44736 )

        Might as well program the next Mars rover in PHP.

        Now that's just silly. Of course something mission-critical like a space probe won't be running PHP.

        It'll be running jQuery on node.js.

        what do you mean the latency from our data center on Pluto is lousy? look at the cost savings we get from the free cooling!

    • Well, fact is some people can live without type checking.

      Some can't. (I'm more the second variant)

      However analyzing the problem comes down to the point that I'm either a bad typer or a bad reader or both. Words like print, prnt, pirnt, even pront, prant, pfrint etc. look at the first glance the same for me. Ofc they all mean

      print. However in a language like Smaltalk, Groovy or Python a statement like:
      will compile.
      It will run even (to a certain point).
      However, the problem above

  • by Spy Handler ( 822350 ) on Tuesday May 21, 2013 @07:34PM (#43788811) Homepage Journal

    not having heard of it, and thus never having any thoughts about it, and since you say it's NOT what I think it is (nothing), I guess Dart *is* something!

    • by c0lo ( 1497653 )
      Meanwhile, in a galaxy far-far away:
      Sith Ladd has an excellent write-up of Darth
  • by Necroman ( 61604 ) on Tuesday May 21, 2013 @07:48PM (#43788901)

    I've been following Dart on and off since it's announcement. I'm still a little skeptical of the language, but I'm a fan of what they want to do. Here are their basic goals:

    • Create a class based (OOP) language for doing browser heavy apps (like GMail).
    • Allow it to inter-op with today's browsers (hence compiling to Javascript)
    • Create a DartVM so the code can run faster than there javascript counter-parts. This also allows for server-side, but this much lower on their priorities.
    • Make the language easy for Java/C++/C# developers to learn.
    • Only work with "the modern web". meaning IE9 and higher.

    There is a lot more to it than this, but it's sort of a beginning. The language still hasn't hit 1.0, so no one is seriously using it (as the language itself was seeing large changes up until recently). Google has not talked about anyone outside of the Dart team itself that is using Dart within Google (they are doing it, it's just not being talked about yet).

    Since 1.0 is expected this summer, you probably won't see many people using it until that milestone is hit. Once 1.0 is hit, people will be more willing to create real products with it, so you can expect to see more about Dart after that. As well, once the DartVM makes its way into Chrome (which will happen sometime after 1.0), you'll probably see a lot of press about the first Google App that is written in Dart.

    It's still early in Dart's life. The only people really seriously using it are people that like learning new languages. Companies and most developers won't touch an in-progress programming language out of fear that syntax and behavior changes will screw them up.

    • by fisted ( 2295862 )
      If modern web means IE9 or higher, then thanks, but no, thanks.
    • "Not JavaScript" is a pretty bug feature if you like having maintainable code. JavaScript is a very flexible language and all, but there are *way* too many bad/flaky things about it. I'm hoping it's an open language (more open than Java at least), but I'm assuming it is as it's from Google. It would be nice to have a single language that could replace Java and JavaScript, and a handful of other languages.

      • I actually have taken a liking to TypeScript [] for that purpose. It is rather fancy. I never touch "raw" js any more, I just treat it as a compiled blackbox.

        • by AuMatar ( 183847 )

          That sounds like a maintenance nightmare. The code you're writing and debugging is not the code actually running, making debugging require you to know a second language and be able to figure out where the bug is in both. No thanks, that sounds like a great way to waste lots of time. I hate Javascript, but until something else is native in the browser there is no alternative.

      • Well,

        don't get me wrong. However knowing what a class is and knowing what a function is and knowing what a procedure is and knowing what a script is ans knowing what a program is .... it hurts me (physically!!) that a class in JavaScript is defined/introduced with the keyword "function". Sorry, a function is not a class. That is computer science first year. The guy who invented that should be shot. (Interesting however is that there are likely more Javascript developers on the world than Java or C# or C++ d

        • by narcc ( 412956 )

          that a class in JavaScript is


          • narcc is of course referring to the fact that JavaScript does not have classes. That there are so many frameworks that attempt to mimic classes in JavaScript certainly doesn't make this an easier to understand fact.
  • by l0ungeb0y ( 442022 ) on Tuesday May 21, 2013 @07:58PM (#43788979) Homepage Journal

    Or so that was my first thought. Then I got to the end of the article

    Dart compiles to JavaScript and runs across the modern web

    And suddenly I find it potentially very useful. I have a NodeJS project to develop a Streaming Service later this week. While I was planning on writing it in Coffeescript, the classic OO nature of Dart with Type Checking and Interfaces(!) seems like a potentially better match since the NodeJS app will be a clustered streaming service -- just the sort of application whose architecture could greatly benefit from these language features. If that succeeds, I know of a large retailer wanting to create a NodeJS middleware as a REST API to legacy systems, who might find Dart as compelling as I do.

  • by kwerle ( 39371 ) <> on Tuesday May 21, 2013 @08:00PM (#43788991) Homepage Journal

    I fooled around with Dart a few months ago. I like the language. But I really want to be able to use it AND all the javascript libraries that do lots of work for me. It's my opinion that it will be hard for Dart to get traction if all those libraries have to be rewritten.

  • by mdmkolbe ( 944892 ) on Tuesday May 21, 2013 @08:00PM (#43788993)

    Dart understands that sometimes you just don’t feel like appeasing a ceremonial type checker.

    Given that in Dard, the type checker is only ceremonial as far as I can tell, this is an interesting choice of words. The purpose of a true type checker like you find in Haskell, Agda, ML, ATS, etc. isn't just ceremonial. It guarentees certain properties of the resulting program (e.g., that variables of a certain type actually contain an object of that type, that you can never apply an invalid operation to an object, etc.). That is far from ceremonial.

  • YASL (Score:2, Insightful)

    by ebno-10db ( 1459097 )
    Yet another scripting language. Oh boy, because Perl, Python, Ruby, Lua, and probably a hundred others I've never heard of just don't give you enough chaos (oops, I mean choice). Or there is some reason that Dart is the scripting language to end all scripting languages. Or it's an optimal combination of the best features of 47 other languages. Whatever.
  • Isn't that just Visual Basic 6, VBScript, JScript, ActionScript, Real Basic, Jabaco, or JavaScript/ECMAScript? There are languages out there and even C# has the dreaded 'var' in it as well. I just don't see Dart's use outside of Google products.
    • I just don't see Dart's use outside of Google products.

      So? It's Google! By definition everything they do is wonderful, brilliant and the future. But their greatest product of all is hype, and they ship it in volume.

    • by siride ( 974284 )

      C#'s var has nothing to do with JavaScript's var.

  • by RedHackTea ( 2779623 ) on Tuesday May 21, 2013 @08:36PM (#43789249)
    That's what I think. ActionScript allows the same static/dynamic switch:

    for(var i:int = 0; i < 0; ++i) { }
    for(var i = 0; i < 0; ++i) { }

    But, in strict mode, it will give you warnings for the 2nd.
  • I know Tom Magliozzi used to wax rhapsodical about his old Dodge Dart from the 1960s; and recently Dodge resurrected the brand [].

    So yeah - there are people that care deeply about Dart.

  • by OhANameWhatName ( 2688401 ) on Tuesday May 21, 2013 @09:15PM (#43789495)
    I'll support it. Javascript is a thoroughly horrible language with anachronistic syntax that requires specialised skills to understand. If Dart has the potential to rid my life of Javascript, please Google .. get it out there!!
    • On that front I will agree however Dart really doesnt solve my major complaint with the "web" languages - its still "slow" when compared with Java/C++, although it is of course early days. Personally all I want is a language (Dartish/Rubyish) thats as fast as Java....but that ISN'T Java (or Javascript). Seriously considering investing some time in Scala with the Play framework....

  • by angel'o'sphere ( 80593 ) on Tuesday May 21, 2013 @09:32PM (#43789647) Journal

    One Problem is teaching.

    One problem is "compatibility" or "easy to learn". E.G. regarding keywords.

    C has a keyword: static.
    C++ has the same keyword: static.
    As Java aimed to be similar to C++ and "easy to learn" it also has a keyword static.

    While the meaning of the "keyword" in Java and C++ is the same, it differs from C. (Oh! and this already is not true as you can use 'static' in C++ similar to C if you just use it for free functions and data).

    So what does 'static' mean? [] [] [] []

    Unfortunately 'static' in a programming language has no meaning at all. Why is the "starting method" in Java called "static void main(String[] args) {}"? Yeah, because in C and C++ it is called main(). Pascal has not that problem.

    What do you think a non native english (oh, well what about the english?) considers if he hears the word 'static'?

    Good, now lets bash Python and Groovy. What is a "def"? Oh? A definition? Are you certain you can distinguish what the difference between a definition and a declaration is?

    So "methods" are now "declared" (or is it defined?) by the introducing keyword "def"? Oh, for fuck sake, I got it wrong again.

    Oki, in Python you declare, oh no!!!! you define methods with the keyword "def". In Groovy you define variables (oh! no!!!!! you declare!!!) with the keyword "def".

    Yeah, I could rant forever ...

    All new languages we see here and there are only languages for programmers that already can program.

    But, what is about expressing your mind?

    What about teaching programming? Imho Java is one of the most difficult languages to teach. Why? Because you need to know already so much about programming to grasp it!!!!! (Same for C# ofc).

    However: modern times show: you don't need to understand Java/C# (just a replacement for most modern languages) because the programing tasks a modern developer has (especially compared to the tools he has at hand) is so mondane. C++ on the other hand only shows how super smart and knowing you need to be to use the language, or not to shoot into your foot.

    So where are we?

    New languages should use new keywords, that describe precisely what they mean. No void, no static, no final or for that matter finally, no fucking def, var or func. Did I forget one? I certainly did. And they should have reasonable defaults. I hate Java meanwhile, "public void doit() {}", "private boolean done = false". Then we get to "static final String DID_WE_DO_IT = "yes we did";" What is so hard in having methods be PUBLIC by DEFAULT and attributes PRIVATE by DEFAULT?
    Writing code is still possible, even if it hurts my hands and my eyes. But reading? I simply don't want to read code anymore ... neither C++ nor Java nor C#. The redundancy hurts me literally.
    In a typical Eclipse window I would estimate 30% of all characters/words are simply superfluous. And the fact that they all have a different colour emphasizes this.

    How would a real world language look to you if it was written like this: "I want (that is me the guy writing) that we (that is us, you who are listening, and me who is talking) that we (well, dont be mistaken, I only want it, it is not an order) that we (yes, I invite you to participate) go to the beach (and want does not mean it is super important ... it is kinda void)? (And all words in () above in a different colour? Like pink (ARRRRGGG!!!!) light green ( /*facepalm*/), dark and light blue, emphazised(bold) full

    • by Kielistic ( 1273232 ) on Tuesday May 21, 2013 @10:31PM (#43790029)

      If you think all those words are superfluous you probably don't have much knowledge of compilers or IDEs. The static keyword has very well defined meaning in every language it is used in. As do all those other keywords you seem to hate. Should we kill modern programming languages and go back to what, a stripped down functional paradigm because you deem all this stuff superfluous and hard to teach to beginners?

      Programming is about precision. I should never have to guess at what the compiler is going to do with my code; programming is not a natural language. You are damn right I want a void return type. I want OO static members. I want all the information that can be put into method/function/variable definitions so I can take a quick glance and see what it does, takes and returns. So that my IDE, if I'm using one, can auto-complete most of the code for me. So that the (JIT-)?compiler or interpreter can understand all kinds of fancy syntax that lets me do more and write less.

      Those five things you mention have nothing to do with C or C++. They are programming concepts and pretty basic ones at that. Obviously you have to understand the basics before you can move on to intermediate.

      • by vux984 ( 928602 )

        The static keyword has very well defined meaning in every language it is used in.

        I think his point was that that static doesn't map semantically very well. They could have just made the keyword "ketchup" and defined it the same way and it would be no better or worse.

        You are damn right I want a void return type

        But why call it "void" and why call it a "function" if it doesn't return something?

        To be honest, I kind of see his point.

        • It is called static because it is statically allocated. It is a compiler concept which became an OO concept due to being somewhat similar. It is static; it is the same when I access it here as it is when I access it there. It is not arbitrary any more than any word is arbitrary. Why make up new words now when we have an established lexicon? Nothing maps semantically well into English because it is a natural language with all kinds of context involved. Programming languages have to be context free whic

          • by vux984 ( 928602 )

            It is called static because it is statically allocated

            That's a circular argument. What does statically allocated mean? Is it called "static" because its kind of the opposite of dynamic? I checked two thesaurus that don't make that connection... they suggested 'fixed' or 'stable' or 'permanent'. Those make at least as much sense as 'static'.

            . It is a compiler concept which became an OO concept due to being somewhat similar.

            Even you have got to realize that is pretty weak. Could have just as easily called the

            • That's a circular argument.

              Exactly, they're words. They needed to name it something and they chose static. Definitions always come down to circular logic. Why is the thing attached to my arm a hand and not a foot? Because it's a hand and a foot is something different.

              Could have just as easily called them shared

              Yes they could have called them anything but they chose static members because it fit and because the compiler was deciding what to allocate at compile-time and not at run time.

              So void is nothing, and its not to be confused with a void* which is a pointer to absolutely anything, right?

              Precisely. They needed a way to tell the lexer nothing gets returned from this and they wa

        • by narcc ( 412956 )

          But why call it "void" and why call it a "function" if it doesn't return something?

          This is something VB got right: distinguishing functions from subroutines. I don't know that it was ultimately helpful beyond the obvious pedagogical benefits, but it the distinction is valid and reasonable.

          To be honest, I kind of see his point.

          Even a blind squirrel gets a nut once in a while. Try as he might, he can't be wrong all the time.

          • by mbkennel ( 97636 )

            Actually there is a fairly-well used programming language, with a substantial user base, highly optimizing compilers, and a large set of libraries which comes closer to meeting the poster's objections (which I agree with 100%).

            It's called Fortran. Modern Fortran (95 through 2008) makes fairly reasonable use of words to express important semantics instead of bizarre combinations of some legacy subset of wordlets and punctuation. Fortran uses additional words when it adds additional concepts.

            REAL, POINTER :

      • Non-superfluous doesn't necessarily mean not precise or not well-defined. It means using context clues more than explicit declarations where the context gives you everything you need to know.
        For example, 'var' in C# was brilliant, IMO, and I am upset that Java doesn't have one. `var x = ...` gives you 100% of the information you need to know what the type of `x` is, because the language is statically typed so the right-hand side has a statically determinable type. It also saves a ton of needless typing. W
        • Gordamnit. That should have read:

          HashMap<Integer, String> intNames = new HashMap<Integer, String>();

          The &lt; is another example of something superfluous.
  • I like what I read. I'm always conflicted by my good experiences with untyped languages, compared to my good experiences with typed languages finding hard to find bugs. It's nice to see people looking at how they can be mixed. And I like they've added some stuff that Java lacks which is useful. (no such method) etc.

    The trouble is: it looks too much like Java for it to be likely that anybody will bother. With all languages I usually end up thinking... is this as elegant as Scheme? No? So why bother. I think

  • For those of you who don't know, asm.js [] is a subset of JavaScript that's meant to be easy to compile. In other words if you use asm.js the code your will work in all browsers, but should run faster in some. In that FAQ they say their compiled asm.js runs at about 1/2 the speed of C, making it roughly twice as fast [] as JavaScript V8 [].

    Which is wonderful, except that JavaScirpt is a prick of a language, and so I'd imagine that asm.js is a tedious, prick of a language. But Dart compiled to asm.js - sounds like a marriage made in heaven.

  • No more public-static-void-main-String[]-args just to start a program! Dart’s simple top-level main() function is all you need.

    ...Is this actually a deal breaker for some people in other languages?

Receiving a million dollars tax free will make you feel better than being flat broke and having a stomach ache. -- Dolph Sharp, "I'm O.K., You're Not So Hot"