Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Java And Simplicity

I was reading 10 Reasons Why Java is Drifting Away because I'm always curious to what other people think of the changes in Java. And I came across this comment:
I believe, simplicity of language is VERY UNDERESTIMATED asset.

See, I worked for years with c++. I liked templates, they were
giving me a 'mental satisfaction'. I liked to check generated
assembler, emmited own instructions when not satisfied.

But that's not way how programs should be made.
Once switched to java, I apprecitated simplicity of java.
Java followed KISS principle, provided simple language,
simple tools (javac, javadoc, javah ... ).

Now, we are loosing this important asset.
Converted c++ programmers ask their templates and operators.
Converted c# programmers ask their properties and closures.
Coverted script programmers want their dose of language sugar.

Java creators made java simple - and not simpler then it should be.
We should apprecitate and preserve it (in rational way).

OK, I'm sure that some of the Smalltalkers and Lispers out there either have their jaws on the floor or hurt bellies from laughing so hard. I know I did at first and then it struck me. We have failed. We have failed to educate on what simple can truly be. When I think of simplicity in language design, I think of Self, Smalltalk, Forth, and Scheme. Java wouldn't even come close. But, there's an army of developers out there that haven't seen better and that is sad.

Sure, we could easily laugh at the uneducated, but it's our fault. Instead we should be sharing and telling. I spent time at RubyConf showing off Squeak and have been known to hang out at the local Java user's groups talking all things dynamic. I enjoy showing people the power that's out there and the great thoughts that have preceded us. It's exciting to see Java getting some of these capabilities and programmers demanding them! The future is bright, but there are still some we haven't reached.

Next time, you hear someone call Java simple, don't snicker. Show them something simple. Who knows maybe someday I'll be able to program in Self because it will be the defacto standard. A boy can dream can't he?


Jecel said...

Blain, I am working very hard to make Self the next standard (by making it the first language that the next generation learns rather than trying to convert current programmers). Except I am making it much simpler...

I have renamed it Neo Smalltalk (previously it was Self/R) since otherwise people don't seem to accept that Self is just another Smalltalk dialect.

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