16 May 2002 shlomif   » (Master)

Money Oriented Programming

I just had a three-way chat with two of my fellow students. I am a Perl proponent, one of the others think C++ is the best language in the world (and cannot understand why Perl can be a good thing), and the other works at Sun hacking on Java, and thinks it's much better than either C++ or Perl.

The Java guy asked me how much new code is written in Perl. I told him a lot. "OK" he said, "but not one in scripts, scripts are just workarounds. They are not real code.". I told him scripts were perfectly good code. Then I told him of some applications I wrote that were written in Perl, like the initial version of the IP-Noise simulator, or lm-solve. He said, "OK, but I want code that companies write".

I told him that he gets on my nerves and said "First you rule out scripts' code, now you rule out open-source code. Next thing you'll rule out every other Perl code on the planet!". Moreover, it's hard to compare the volume of codes in different languages. In some languages, many tasks would result in much shorter codebases than in others (and vice versa).

I now fully realize the reason why Stephanov (the STL guy) called Java money-oriented programming. I don't have anything against making money or against selling products or APIs commercially. However, Sun seems to see Java as a hypeware whose prime purpose is to bring it money. I actually see Java as a clean and fun language, which could prove useful to many people. But it's not a language that gives me too many new insights. It short of falls between the chairs of C++ and Perl.

Perl (and Python, Ruby, yeah, yeah) is not about getting money. It's about getting your job done. People utilize Perl and it either saves or even brings them money. However, it was designed as a good language which people would like to use, and not as a commercial hype to make money off those who fall for it and do not know other languages to know better.

Software can be duplicated and distributed for virtually no cost. Charging money for software, or not releasing its source, is therefore a not a robust way of doing things. By robust I mean that you constantly have to make sure your product is a good one, and to make it better. By making it open-source, however, you necessarily give up hope, and so you give a statement of intent, that it is good in any case.

There are some things that are good in Java. But I'm not sure people would have been that enthusiastic about it, had it been released in a quite, hype-less fashion.

I should probably tell about the C++ vs. Perl argument later, but it seems that it will take me some time to convince him that learning Perl is worth his time.

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