not long ago about how we can be the biggest obstacle to our own growth. It made me realize how I've dropped things that I was once a staunch supporter of.
I was once a Borland Pascal programmer, and I believed that it was better than C or even C++. I believed that the flexibility of runtime typing would win over the static typing of C++ templates, as computers got faster. I belived that RPC were a great idea, and even worked on an RPC system that would work over dial-up connections (because that's what I had back then). I put in a lot of time working on object persistence and databases. I thought that exceptions were fundamentally bad. I believed that threads were bad, and that event-driven was the way to go.
Now, I believe in message-passing and in letting the OS kernel manage concurrency (but I don't necessarily believe in threads, it's just what I happen to need in order to get efficient message-passing inside a concurrent application that lets the kernel do its work). I wonder when that will become wrong? And what is going to become right?
I like to think I had some vision, occasionally. For example, I once worked on an email processing system for FidoNet
(thanks to Tom Jennings
, a beacon of awesome!), and my friends called me a nutjob when I told them that I was designing the thing so that it was possible to send messages larger than two gigabytes. What I believed was that we'd get fantastic bandwidth someday where messages this large were feasible (we did! but that was an easy call), and that you'd be able to subscribe to television shows for some small sum, where they would send it to you by email and you'd watch it to your convenience. That's never gonna happen
, they said! Ha! HTTP (which I think is used in the iTunes Store) uses the very same chunked encoding that I put in my design back then...
Note that in some cases, I was partly right, but the world changed, and what was right became wrong. For example, the 32-bit variant of Borland Pascal, Delphi, is actually a pretty nice language (ask apenwarr
!), and while it isn't going to beat C++ in system programming, like I believed it could, it's giving it a really hard time in Windows application programming, and that level of success despite being an almost entirely proprietary platform
is quite amazing. Even Microsoft is buckling under the reality that openness is good for language platforms, trying to have as many people from the outside contributing to .NET (another thing to note: C# was mainly designed by some of the Delphi designers). Imagine what could happen if Borland came to its sense and spat out a Delphi GCC front-end (and use it in their products, making it "the real one", not some afterthought)?
But hey, what do I know? I once thought RPC was going to be the future!
Syndicated 2008-05-28 15:29:20 (Updated 2008-05-28 20:06:04) from Pierre Phaneuf