Posts Tagged ‘language-war’

Although I do not use D, I always see it as one of the most attractive programming languages, smartly balancing efficiency, simplicity and extensibility. At the same time, I keep getting frustrated when I see such an elegant thing fade away gradually given that a) D has dropped out of top 20 in TIOBE Programming Community Index and b) it was not evaluated by the Computer Language Benchmarks Game any more. Most programmers know why this happens. I am simply frustrated.

D is falling while Go is rising. I do appreciate the philosophy behind the design of Go and trust Rob Pike and Ken Thompson to deliver another great product, but right now I do not see Go as a replacement of any mainstream programming languages as long as it is way slower than Java, not to speak C/C++. To me, Go’s rising is merely due to the support from Google. It is good as a research project, but it needs time to reach the critical mass in practice.

While reading the Computer Language Benchmarks Game, I am really amazed by LuaJIT. Probably I am going to try it some day.

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Just now I got an email from a mailing list, saying that C++ helps to greatly reduce coding time in comparison to C. I have heard a lot about this argument. But is that true?

C++ can possibly accelerate development in two ways: firstly, OOP (Object-Oriented Programming) helps to organize large projects, and secondly, STL (Standard Template Library) saves time on reimplementing frequently used subroutines. However, I do not find C++ OOP greatly helps me. To me, it is not right to clearly classify a programming language as a procedure-oriented or object-oriented language. It is only right to say a development methodology is procedure-oriented or object-oriented. We can effectively mimic the fundamental OOP ideas in C, a socalled procedure-oriented language, by packaging related data in a struct and transfer the a pointer to the struct to subroutines. I know C++ programmers would argue doing in this way is far from OOP, but it has captured the essence of OOP and in practice sufficient to organize large projects with this simple and natural idea. The large amount of existing C projects, such as Linux kernel, gcc and Emacs, prove this is the truth. With OOP ideas, we can use C to organize large projects without difficulty. C++ does not provide more power except introducing more complicated concepts.

I do not use STL most of time. I have implemented most of useful subroutines in C/C++ by myself. I actually spend less time in using my own library than using STL as I am very familiar with my own codes. Of course, implementing an efficient and yet generic library by myself takes a lot of time, but I really learn a lot in this invaluable process. I can hardly imagine how a programmer who does not get a firm grasp of data structures, which can only be achieved by implementing by him/herself, can ever write good programs. To this end, I agree that for elementary programmers using STL reduces coding time; but this is achieved at the cost of weakening the ability to write better programs. And for an advanced programmer, using STL may help but probably does not save much time.

Note that I am not saying C++ is a bad language as a whole. In fact, I use C++ template functions a lot and C++ template classes at times. In this post, I just want to emphasize the importantance to focusing on the art of programming instead of on the artificial concepts or on the degree of laziness a language can provide.

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Language War

Language war denotes the debate over which is the best programming language, especially between languages with similar applications like C/C++, C++/Java and Perl/Python. A lot of programmers, including me, are absorbed in this debate. They write articles; they design benchmarks. However, they can never come to a unanimous conclusion. Language war is never ending.

The long-lasting debate itself implies that there is no best programming language. All the mainstream programming languages have their own advantages and disadvantages. The answer to “which is the best programming language” largely depends on how a programmer weights the advantages and disadvantages. It is subjective rather than objective: different programmers weight differently.

However, it is still beneficial to be involved in the language war. The intense debate makes us think over the strength and weakness of programming lanuages we may not be aware of otherwise. I will also post my opinions here in future.

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