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A prediction for 2014

When I first started writing this blog I used to make prediction for the coming year. After a couple of years I stopped doing this, the world of computer languages changes very slowly, i.e., I was mostly proved wrong.

I recently realised that Facebook had not yet launched their own general programming language; such an event must be a sure fire prediction for 2014.

Stop trying to argue that the world does not need a new programming language. The reason companies launch their own language is self image (in the way Hollywood superstars launch their own perfumes and fashion lines).

Back in the day IBM launched PL/1, we had Ada from the US DOD, C# and F# from Microsoft, Google has Go and Mozilla has Rust.

Facebook has a software platform and I’m sure they feel something is missing. It must really gall their engineers to hear people from Google, Mozilla and even that old fogy Microsoft talking about ‘their’ language.

New languages are easy to invent, PhD students do it all the time. Implementing them is also cheap, a good engineer can put together a compiler and interpreter in about a year; these days, thanks to LLVM, the cost of building a machine code generator for a new language has dropped significantly (GCC is still intimidating). Libraries, where a large percentage of the work used to go, can be copied from a multitude of places (not a problem if everything is open sourced, which new language implementations tend to be these days).

One end of year tit-bit is that Google now seem to be taking Dart more seriously than just techy swagger.

  1. January 15th, 2014 at 07:15 | #1

    But Facebook are now starting to adopt D – and with good results: http://www.drdobbs.com/mobile/facebook-adopts-d-language/240162694

    With Alexandrescu there, and leading that drive, you might call D Facebook’s “adopted” language. It’s almost (but not quite) like Apple’s adoption of Objective-C as their systems langauge of choice (not quite because Apple do own the rights to OC).

  2. January 16th, 2014 at 13:38 | #2

    @Phil Nash
    Companies use lots of different languages, we will have to wait and see if D gets any substantial backing. Apple started using Objective-C back in the days before C++ became mainstream and other languages could have become the next big thing.

    Face book has put a lot of resources behind HipHop, their PHP ‘compiler’. I wonder if they will come up with a PHP variant that is intrinsically more reliably and easier to generate efficient code from (as Google claims with Dart vs. JavaScript). Or perhaps a social networking language with built in intrinsics for manipulating graphs.

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