|By Udayan Banerjee||
|October 3, 2012 10:45 AM EDT||
Do we need programming languages?
You may think that the answer is no. But, if you go by the recent trend you may need to change your mind.
Consider for example the following questions:
- Why is Google working two (GO, DART) new programming languages?
- Why has IBM (X10), Cray (Chapel) and Red Hat (Ceylon) working on creating a new programming language of its own?
- Why did the attendees of a recent conference in London select 5 (HTML5, DART, Scala, Clojure, Node.js) new languages as the most important software development trends for 2012?
- What does Neil McAllister mean when he says that these 10 (DART, Ceylon, GO, F#, OPA, Fantom, Zimbu, X10, Haxe, Chapel) programming languages that could shake up IT?
- Why did Anders Hejlsberg of Microsoft, the creator of Turbo Pascal, Delphi and C# launch TypeScript?
Are new programming languages getting created just to satisfy the creative urge of somebody or has the technology evolution created the need for new way of programming and hence these new languages?
If you look back...
There are 3 periods in history when there was a burst of new programming languages. Each of these periods is linked to a critical point in technology evolution.
|1957-64||Invention of compiler and the era of 3GL||(1) Fortran, (2) Algol, (3) Lisp, (4) Cobol, (5) RPG, (6) APL, (7) Simula, (8) Basic and (9) PL/1|
|1978-84||Invention of RDBMS and the era of the 4GL||(1) SQL, (2) dBase, (3) C++, (4) Oracle Forms and PL/SQL, (5) Informix 4GL, (6) Gupta SQL, (7) Unify Accell and (8) Ingress|
|1990-95||O-O & Multi-tier programming and the era of WWW||(1) HTML, (2) Haskel, (3) Python, (4) Power Script (Power Builder), (5) Visual Basic, (6) Lua, (7) Ruby, (8) Object Pascal (Delphi), (9) Java, (10) Java Script and (11) PHP|
Other important languages which was created outside these time period are: (1) Pascal – 1970, (2) C – 1972, (3) Prolog – 1972, (4) Smalltalk – 1972, (5) Erlang – 1986, (6) Perl – 1987 and (7) C# – 2001. As you can see, they are very few.
Are we entering another period which on hindsight will be classified as another period of technology transition? Only time can tell.
Does cloud computing got anything to do with it?
It most certainly does. But that is not the whole story – there is more to it.
What could the Technology Drivers be?
If you analyze the primary motivation behind these languages, you will see several common themes emerging.
(1) Distributed/Parallel computing:
Programmability of parallel computers (Chapel from Cray, X10 from IBM), Concurrent programming (Clojure, Fantom, Go) and single language for complete cloud stack (Opa)
Cloud computing is all about distributing your process across multiple CPU and running them in parallel or concurrently. Current programming languages are not very well suited for that.
Hence this attempt to create languages tailored for parallel processing.
(2) Multi-paradigm programming:
Languages which support object oriented programming as well as functional programming (Clojure, F#, Fantom, Scala)
Functional programs are relatively easy to parallelize. However, pure functional languages have not been very successful.
Hence this attempt to create multi-paradigm programming language.
(3) Multi-platform programming:
Well this is a dream which we have been chasing for decades. Will it ever be a reality? We never know.
Hence this attempt to create multi-platform language!
(4) Programming at Scale:
Readability, Modularity (Ceylon), Speed of compilation (Go, Zimbu), Suitable for large team (Scala), Meta-programmability and extensibility (Ceylon, Scala), Concise (Scala, Zimbu)
Cloud provides almost unlimited computing power which encourages us to build larger and more complex application. Building such application will require large teams and the code has to be easily maintainable.
Also, the focus on frequent integration requires the process of compilation to be speeded up.
Hence this attempt to create programming language for large application.
(5) Client side programming:
Quick overview of the 12 new languages mentioned earlier
|Language||Who is behind it?||Primary Driver||Licensing|
|Red Hat - Home page||Readability, Predictability, Tool-ability, Modularity, Meta-programmability.Runs on JVM||GPL v2|
|Cray - Home page||Programmability of parallel computersRun on Cray supercomputers and various high-performance clusters.Portable to most Unix-style systems, Mac OS X and Windows||BSD|
|Microsoft - Home page||
Multi-paradigm: Functional + Imperative + Object-oriented.Runs on CLR and Mono
|Google - Home page||Compiled with the ease of programming of a dynamic language, concurrency and communication, speed of compilation.Compiler available for Linux, Mac OS X, Windows||BSD style + patent grant|
|MLstate - Home page||Targeted for cloud computing. Client-side UI, server-side logic, and database I/O are all implemented in a single languageRuntime environment own Web server and DBMS.Runs on 64bit Linux and Mac||AGPL|
|EPFL - Home page||
Scalability for multicore and distributed computing. For large team. Multi-paradigm: Functional and O-O. Extensible.Runs on JVM, Android, CLR
|IBM - Home page||Designed specifically for parallel programming, performance and scale.Runs on IBM AIX, Linux, Mac OS X, Windows||EPL|
|Bram Moolenaar - Home page||Aims to be fast, concise, portable, and easy-to-read and support GUI application to an OS kernel.Compiles to ANSI C||Apache v2|
What is most interesting is that all the 12 languages are available under some form of open source license.
Interesting articles on history of programming languages:
- The History of Programming Languages [Infographic]
- Programming Language History
- A Brief, Incomplete, and Mostly Wrong History of Programming Languages
- Modern books on multiple programming languages
Statistics on Language usage
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