Creating new programming languages is becoming easier ... and harder
In December 2010, Brendan Eich talked about Mozilla’s new programming language called Rust
(that focuses on safety and concurrency, to replace C++ as Mozilla’s
implementation language). He mentions that creating new languages is
still important, because they can recycle old research, but repackage it
so that it becomes more mainstream-compatible. One example is Clojure
that continues the Lisp tradition, but on the Java Virtual Machine
(JVM). There are two new aspects to modern language design:
- Implementing new programming languages has become simpler, thanks to platforms such as LLVM and the JVM.
- But it has also become harder, because modern IDEs such as
Eclipse have made it clear that you cannot separate a language from its
tools. My favorite example, expressed in pseudo-arithmetic:
Python > JavaIn other words: Eclipse fixes some of Java’s deficiencies. Note that this is an old lesson that has been taught by languages that come with sophisticated development environments (e.g. Smalltalk or Genera), but those lessons are just now becoming mainstream again.
Java + Eclipse > Python + (any Python IDE)