On the Evolution of Languagesby ady (Deacon)
|on Apr 18, 2008 at 06:19 UTC||Need Help??|
In an interview with Howard Dierking (from MSDN), Bjarne Stroustrup (BS: the father of C++) shares his current thoughts on programming language and software design.
Though C/C++ is a statically typed language suite, suited (so to speak) for low level systems programming, and tho' BS doesn't mention Perl per se, I found it interesting how he - during the interview - stresses the core the virtues of ... Perl :-)
A general-purpose language should support the writing of libraries that express general and application-specific notions, support tool building, and provide the glue needed to connect different parts of an application. For that, the language needs flexibility, an expressive type system, good basic performance, and long-term stability.
I worry about the number of languages being designed, implemented, introduced with great fanfare, and then fading away without significant impact. During this—typically many-years long phase of development—a new language consumes significant resources with essentially no returns. I wrote a paper on this phenomenon called "A Rationale for Semantically Enhanced Library Languages". I argue for using libraries, possibly supported by tools, and a general-purpose language
Basically, designing, implementing, maintaining and supporting a language is tremendously expensive. Only a large user community can shoulder the long-term parts of that. The net effect is that on the order of 200 new languages are developed each year and that about 200 languages become unsupported each year.
That's a viewpoint relevant also for the Perl community and the current evolution to Perl6, including Perl5 compatibility. (see also Evolving a language in and for the real world: C++ 1991-2006).