Matthew Huntbach takes a long hard look at the coolest language on the planet and is distinctly under impressed by what he sees…
Friday 16 March 2007
by Matthew Huntbach
Tim Sweeney’s talk The Next Mainstream Programming Language (PowerPoint PPT) is in many ways an antidote to the recent Ruby hype. Tim calls for the use of stronger types to ensure program reliability. He praises the academically-developed Haskell functional programming language. He raises concurrency as a feature which must be tackled in the next big programming language, using a better model than the shared state with threads and mutual exclusion devices used by Java - and by Ruby - (...)
Like most of the people who have replied to my article, you seem to have assumed I was saying Ruby was a particularly bad language. I wasn’t, I was actually saying that it’s just another language. I looked at Ruby after reading the hype which suggested that Ruby was somehow hugely superior to other programming languages, a major innovation which would make programming so much easier, but I couldn’t find much which supported that.
Like most other commentators, you’ve also made far too much out of one small paragraph, which I didn’t mean too seriously, about my not particularly liking cutesy introductions to programming languages.
I disagree with your comment that all programming languages are much more unnatural for people who are not native English speakers than they are for those for whom English is a first language. Programming simply isn’t like using natural language, maybe the idea that large numbers of English keywords made it so was believeable when Cobol was first developed, but surely no-one can think that way seriously now. Anyone who has programmed for any length of time thinks of the keywords as just symbols, not pieces of English. If it was a big issue, it would be trivial to introduce a new programming language just by changing the keywords of an existing programming language to words form another human language, but as there has been little demand for such a thing, I guess it can’t be a big issue.
Like many other posters here, you accuse me of "whining" or similar, yet fail to understand the point I was making. As Ruby makes the claim that the way it does things is so much more simple and natural than other languages, it’s a counter-argument to find an example which suggets its choice is just as arbitrary as other languages. Again, what I am arguing here is not that Ruby is particularly bad, rather that it’s just another programming language.