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Living-ness of programming languages

by dragonchild (Archbishop)
on May 21, 2004 at 14:27 UTC ( #355283=perlmeditation: print w/replies, xml ) Need Help??

Wassercrats, in Fearing the demise of Perl, brings up a very interesting concept - the comparative living-ness of various programming languages, at least where the Internet is concerned. While I disagree with his jumped-to conclusion, I would put forward that he has stumbled on a useful measure of a language.

In my reply, I defined living-ness to be a composite measure of the following qualities:

  • How likely you are to get a job working in that language
  • How likely is the language to be supported by the Internet community
  • How likely is there prior art to work from
  • How likely is there going to be innovation in the language

In his reply, Abigail-II takes the concept a little further and compares 20 languages. The numbers he comes up with track very closely to what I would consider how those 20 languages are doing, living-wise.

  • Many languages, especially the ones used in business, are increasing in living-ness.
  • A few languages (COBOL, Fortran, etc) are decreasing in living-ness.
  • Some are staying relatively steady, especially those used primarily in academia.

Note - living-ness and useful-ness are two mostly-unrelated concepts. But, I think that it is foolish to disregard either concept in favor of the other. Many have said that LISP is the be-all-end-all of programming languages. Yet, the likelihood of gettting a job programming in LISP is ... low. As professionals, we need to take all these factors into account. Even though I consider Perl to be one of the best languages in existence, I'm still open to learning Java, Python, PHP, and even Fortran, if need be. (Need has not yet arisen, but it might!)

We are the carpenters and bricklayers of the Information Age.

Then there are Damian modules.... *sigh* ... that's not about being less-lazy -- that's about being on some really good drugs -- you know, there is no spoon. - flyingmoose

I shouldn't have to say this, but any code, unless otherwise stated, is untested

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Re: Living-ness of programming languages
by blue_cowdawg (Monsignor) on May 21, 2004 at 16:28 UTC

        living-ness and useful-ness are two mostly-unrelated concepts.

    Absolutely correct. And if I may put a sharper point on it and usefullness often is context-driven. As I have been known to say here at PM before: right tool for the job.

Re: Living-ness of programming languages
by jonadab (Parson) on May 22, 2004 at 02:46 UTC

    There are various ways to evaluate languages; one that I think is interesting is to look at the influence the language in question has had and is having on other languages. Among older languages, Lisp and C are the clear leaders in this area, though there are others worthy of note (not that I'm going to bother at the moment). Among the current generation, though, I think Perl stands in pretty decent stead, though it may be too soon to really tell for sure.

    ;$;=sub{$/};@;=map{my($a,$b)=($_,$;);$;=sub{$a.$b->()}} split//,".rekcah lreP rehtona tsuJ";$\=$;[-1]->();print
Re: Living-ness of programming languages
by flyingmoose (Priest) on May 27, 2004 at 16:16 UTC
    I think you'll find a ton of people that use Perl heavily that don't have a "Perl job". Also, you will find a lot of people who use Perl for fun, at home, etc, in addition to what they do "for a living". These are all signs of (1) Corporate America being obstinate and (2) Perl being cool as heck.
Re: Living-ness of programming languages
by Wassercrats on May 22, 2004 at 02:21 UTC
    Here are statistics simmilar to but better than mine.
Re: Living-ness of programming languages
by dash2 (Hermit) on May 23, 2004 at 23:18 UTC
    The bad news is that from management's POV, livingness and usefulness are closely related. No matter how wonderful language X may be, if you can't find employees to code in it, you aren't going to use it.

    So you can see why Java is popular... because it's popular!

    That doesn't matter if you are just hacking for pleasure. But if you need a job... well, if I had java, I'd probably be much more employable. No regrets though - I'm doing a PhD in political science, which is guaranteed to make me unemployable, but I still love it.

    A massive flamewar beneath your chosen depth has not been shown here

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