While speaking at a conference in the .NET space (the patterns & practices Summit, to be precise), Rocky Lhotka once offered an interesting benchmark for language productivity, a variation on the kLOC metric, what I would suggest is the “CLOC” idea: how many lines of code required to express a concept. (Or, since we could argue over formatting and style until the cows come home, how many keystrokes rather than lines of code.) Let’s start with a simple comparison.
As Joel before me, I'm going to be in beautiful Victoria, British Columbia, on April 4th to present at the Victoria .NET Developers Association, and as usual, the topic of what to present has come up. Normally, this is a subject that the user group lead and I sort of hash out in private beforehand, but in this case, Nolan Zak (the user group lead) suggested I post here and call for suggestions.
I know that many readers of this blog complain when I take time out from technical topics to talk about personal stuff, so if you're one of those folks, move along. This is about as personal as it gets, and fair warning: if you're going to complain about this post, I'm going to ignore you, at best. Daniel Steinberg, a fellow No Fluff Just Stuff speaker, lost his seven-year-old daughter not too long ago, and he wrote the story up in a really poignant and moving piece he called "Dear Elena".
Several people have commented on my recent posting about Spring, and I want to make something clear: I'm not saying that Spring (or Hibernate, or EJB, or anything else) is a bad technology. I'm saying that walking up to every project, assuming that Spring will be THE answer, is bad. This kind of dogmatic approach--which, by the way, more than anything else is what led to the downfall of EJB as a popular technology--is bound to bite you in an uncomfortable place sooner or later.
Recently, while cruising the Internet (and, in particular, the Lambda-the-Ultimate site), I ran across the Scala programming language, latest brainchild of Martin Odersky (of GJ fame, which of course was derived from Pizza, among others). It's another entry in the hybrid functional/object language space, and as such, has a lot of interesting features that Ruby holds, but runs on the JVM (and can actually cross-compile into a .NET assembly, though it does require some slightly different mappings), and as such means developers don't have to make a wholesale commitment to the Ruby interpreter.
There are a few things, I've found, that are fun about being a speaker and general rabble-rouser, but none of them are nearly as much fun as when I get an opportunity to interview industry icons and ask them all my questions on camera. :-) In this case, while at JavaPolis2005, my victims were the well-known pair Joshua Bloch and Neal Gafter, who, more than anyone else in the world, are most directly responsible for the language features that came in Java5.
CrazyBob just wrote about how he "doesn't get Spring", and although it runs the risk of sounding like something from the "Me, too" bandwagon, I have to say, I agree with him (and have been saying this in conferences and panels for a while now): Even worse, I've noticed what I consider to be a dangerous and blind increase in the rate of Spring adoption. I've yet to read a critical article or book on Spring.
Billy Hollis, famed Visual Basic lecturer and secret programming language anthropologist, has compiled a succinct history of programming languages. As he puts it, If you like VB, look at the history of the C family [of languages] first. If you like C#, Java or C++, look at the history of the BASIC family first. Definitely something to quote next time you're in a (friendly) raging debate about "which language is better".
A number of you have made comments about my LINQ paper, and rather than respond in comments in turn, I thought I'd gather them up and respond to them en masse. So, without ado.... Stu Smith said: Nice article. Two things occur to me immediately... Based on my current understanding of LINQ, it's purely for querying, and so compared to most O/R systems it lacks caching support. (ie its queries may be optimal but that's not much consolation if it keeps re-executing them).
Matt Morton commented, "One might be able to say that Ted Neward is cynical about any new technology. You might also say he puts himself in the position of the "old" kermudgeon (sp) who opposes anything new and cool." Yep, guilty as charged, for a very specific reason. Ages ago, when EJB first shipped, I was one of the first who looked at it with stars in my eyes. It seemed like such a great, easy solution to all the problems of developers building server-side systems (and I'd done a C++-based 2-tier, CORBA-based 2-tier and Java/NetDynamics-based 3-tier system before this, so I kinda fit into that space already).