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My love… for Expressive Programming Languages

  Farazism      2011-08-17 07:31:09      2,508    0    0

I started out my journey with programming as a teenager learning GW-BASIC. Soon I learnt C language followed by C++.  I was impressed with the OO syntactic constructs C++ had on offer but I felt a little uneasy with a few constructs such as the scope resolution. I started studying Java. It immediately caught my attention with the syntactic improvements and simplifications it brought over C++.

I was still in academics, so learning(precisely trying) programming languages on surface, was a fun activity. I went through PHP, Javascript. I came in interaction with C#. This was the time this language was evolving. The internet was full of text describing the fact that C# was Microsoft’s Java. This encouraged me to study C# and consequently .Net Framework in detail. This was the time LINQ was introduced and I simply loved it. I really liked the way it was elegantly added to the C#. The features added to C# for supporting LINQ namely lambda expressions, implicitly typed  variables, anonymous types, extension methods, query expressions and etc complemented the LINQ infrastructure beautifully. By the time I finished academics, I was a seasoned OO developer.

Recently, I was considering to learn a more cryptic language that aligns with jQuery’s ‘write less, do more’ tagline (although not a language, I like jQuery for the same reason). I considered Python/Ruby but did not find these exciting enough. I have justr come across Scala, and decided to make it my next fun mission.

Normally when I learn a new programming, I would give very little time to learning conventional constructs(for, if, function/class definitions etc). After a very long time, I have come in connection with a language that demands paying attention to such constructs. So no liberty of skipping pages.

I am considering Programming in Scala by Martin Odersky - the man behind Scala, et al. At the time of writing this post, considerable amount of content that teaches Scala, is avaible on Google Books. If you already know Scala, you would probably know by now, what my feedback about the language is…A-W-E-S-O-M-E.

The motivation for using Expressive Languages

  • The code becomes declarative in nature. It has less noise for syntactic constructs and more concentration on the intended logic.
  • The above feature makes the developer productive in writing and making changes to the code
  • Debugging becomes super easy.
  • I personally feel, a developer has a better chance of aligning his/her code with coding best practices.

The only reason I find to keep my self from using an expressive language for a particular task is, as you might have guessed performance. Comparing LINQ to collections with loops, reveals loops are faster. You need to be able to judge if you need mission critical performance, otherwise the difference is ignorable.

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