For developers only: Language Wars

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Every week on the ScobleShow I’ll try to have a geek on that’ll teach you something, well, geeky. You know, a tip on how to do AJAX right or a look inside a development tool like a new version of Eclipse or Visual Studio or an updated or new framework like Ruby on Rails. This week, however, we have something a little more fun: a language war. The setting for this conversation? My mom’s house in Montana where a group of geeks met up for an “Off the Grid” campout. What’s your favorite language? Leave a comment and maybe we’ll have you on a future show.

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92 Responses to “For developers only: Language Wars”

  1. Robert Scoble Says:

    I’m a Basic guy.

  2. Scott Says:

    Interesting debate. I’m glad to see there are still some people who haven’t completely thrown themselves on the Rails, so to speak. Interesting that only the Ruby on Rails guy hated Microsoft so vociferously. I still find asp.net to be one of the best, if not still the best, web app development platforms. Microsoft does do a lot of things wrong, but much of asp.net is right.

    Who are these people anyway? :)

  3. Gary Short Says:

    Favourite language? It’s got to be Smalltalk, there’s none finer. :)

  4. Sebastian Moser Says:

    ASP.NET, because it makes web-development like application-development. PHP is following their direction (object orientation, compiled language - coming in PHP 6).

    But the real reason for ASP.NET being the best language available: MasterPages & UserControls

    There’s no such thing. Probably you could take templates, but they aren’t nearly as useful.

  5. Dave Oliver Says:

    The which language is better debate is a bit silly.

    Why?

    Choice of language is ultimately a personal preference. So one mans meat and potatoes is another mans poison.

    These dabates do get a lot of mileage but at the end of the day it’s not watch makes developers switch languages.

    So what does?

    Lots of things really, but mostly, power, control and easy of use, work environment, platform preference, point of view, school, friends, work … hey perhaps in Elvis as well.

    Basically at the end if the day there are more important things to work out. One of them is … why are we still wasting our time writing all this code? Shouldn’t we be working on ways so we don’t have to?

  6. Scott Says:

    Small point of contention, Sebastian, asp.net is a platform, C# and vb.net are languages. :)

  7. Richard White Says:

    I was the *angry* RoR guy :)

    @Dave:

    “These debates do get a lot of mileage but at the end of the day it’s not watch makes developers switch languages.”

    I would completely agree with that sentiment. Language wars are the geek equivalent of “shooting the shit”. It’s definitely fun (especially after a few brew), but it’s not generating anything too revolutionary.

    @Scott: I am primarily a UI guy these days, though I come from developer roots. My anger towards M$, while always high because of the amount of time I spend with IE6, was at a crescendo on this occasion because I just had the *pleasure* of working with IE7 a few days before. Suffice to say that I thought IE7 was going to me the end to years of hacking for IE6, but I was sadly disappointed.

  8. Richard White Says:

    Oh, and the prompt was actually something more along the lines of “What makes RoR more maintainable [than your average language/framework combo]?”

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  10. Michael Hoover Says:

    I’m the guy who can’t talk without waving his hands all over the place.

    @Dave
    This conversation was not so much about language wars as it was about maintability. You’re right though: why are we still wasting our time writing all this code?

    I think the answer has to go from the top, your development tools and environment, all the way down to each line of code. I don’t think anyone has the silver bullet yet, but there are definitely some languages that get closer than others.

  11. Ric Says:

    Robert,

    I think the most important ‘language war’ is OpenAjax. ALL of the big companies are collaborating to deliver the new standard for Web 2.0 EXCEPT for Microsoft. Why? Can they make ATLAS compatible? Of course!

    Please see our press release about OpenAjax at http://www.opendomain.org/PressRelease.doc

  12. Cedric Says:

    I think the most important ‘language war’ is OpenAjax. ALL of the big companies are collaborating to deliver the new standard for Web 2.0 EXCEPT for Microsoft. Why? Can they make ATLAS compatible? Of course!

    Please see our press release about OpenAjax at http://www.opendomain.org/PressRelease.doc

  13. Richard White Says:

    Ric and Cedric… seperated at birth?

  14. Ric and Cedric Says:

    Sorry about the double posting. I thought the problem was my IE, so I tried FireFox.
    My name is Cedric, but so is my father’s (and his - I am the 3rd), so I ususlaly go by Cedric, but my friends call me Ric (I wont mention what other people call me)

    Robert -
    I know this sounds spammy, but PLEASE read the press release. I am the guy that donated OpenAjax.Org to IBM (among other significant domains) . I am VERY passionate about openAjax and I beleive we should find a way to help Microsoft see the light.

  15. Richard White Says:

    It’s ironic that your press release is a Word doc, not exactly helping your cause there :)

    Good luck getting MS to the table, but it is certianly a noble thing to try.

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  17. Jeff Says:

    I’m a closet programmer. In my world, I am the only one who understands (even the simplest) terms like Structured Query Language. I build revenue generating sites for my own personal gain as a full time, self-employment situation. I am basically just working on building online assets to fund my future goals… and it seems to be working ;)

    In my world, PHP does the trick. It’s easy for me to maintain, because I’m the only one writing it. However, I have a small handful of projects that could easily become enterprise level. I actually dread that day. Questions like “What in the hell were you thinking here!?” will only have the appropriate answer of “I dunno… it got the job done at the time.”

    I guess what I’m saying is that it doesn’t really concern me. I get it up and working using the fastest MVC solution I can come up with.

    Because I code from a lonely computer in the upper corner of my own home, I couldn’t help but find this discussion highly enjoyable to sit in on. I was just referred from the Business 2.0 blog and will certainly be coming back for more. Thanks guys!

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    I previously mentioned a programming language debate that sort of happened on the spot at Scoble’s OffTheGrid gathering. Well with the release of ScobleShow that wonderfully raw bit of video has been released. I’m too afraid to watch it myself so ple…

  19. Richard White Says:

    @Jeff: I’ve actually been meaning to work on my PHP skills. I can modify something but can’t build anything from scratch in it (in a reasonable amount of time). I’m looking forward to using it as the backend for UI prototypes I do for clients. Much easier to deploy, and better supported, than a RoR backend.

  20. Jeff Says:

    @Richard: Being on the RoR train, and wanting to work on your PHP skills, I wonder if you’ve given any attention to the CakePHP project. I would really like to hear some comments on its use and maintainability in comparison to RoR. I haven’t done much investigation there, but it’s definitely in my “learn more about this” pile.

  21. lando Says:

    The young kid (in the cap) is trying to say that the new web frameworks and high level languages are a step up and make more sense then old style web development and lower level programming languages, and he is right. The two older (in white and red) guys are trying to justify the fact that they have a hard time learning the new stuff (its only natural, they’re older) by rationalizing the advantages away. The red guy accepts it, the guy in the white is living in denial.

  22. Richard White Says:

    @Jeff: I haven’t looked at CakePHP. My desire to learn PHP isn’t to learn a whole application stack like I have with Rails, but simply to be able to setup a dummy backend for prototypes quickly (and with less deployment overhead). But I’ll check it out nonetheless.

    @lando: Sooo you’re saying I won? w00t!

  23. Bart Says:

    As a long time software developer, I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed this discussion. I agree with most of what was said, especially the core message of writing understandable and maintainable code (using available libraries where possible) versus writing your own dense and clever code.

    Just as most involved in the discussion believed that Perl’s allowing you to do things so many different ways was a bad thing, I also believe that having so many languages and frameworks available has hindered our evolution as a discipline. Don’t you think it is a bad thing that we all can’t understand each others work even though we are all involved in developing software? Doesn’t this slow us down in evolving our profession? Imagine the time that has been spent arguing and re-learning how to do the same thing in yet another platform/language.

  24. Coder Says:

    The best language ever written is the one that helps me help my company be a huge success and pay me a fat salary ;)

    Symbology is hard to argue about since “things that make sense” are usually symbols one is familiar with, nothing more…

  25. Tech Freak Says:

    Which language is better ? For me it doesn’t really matter, as long as they pay me good. If they say that they pay $$$,$$$ /year for a x# or PL-$$$… I learn and master that language.

  26. Brian Schroer Says:

    English

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