There Is a Need for Multiple Languages

By Darryl K. Taft  |  Posted 2012-02-13 Print this article Print


There are several languages supported by the JVM, including Clojure, Groovy, Scala, JRuby, Jython, Rhino and AspectJ, to name some.

"There is clearly a need for multiple languages,€ Mike Milinkovich, executive director of the Eclipse Foundation, told eWEEK. €œMark's post was absolutely right that the JVM is providing the platform for a renaissance of programming language development and adoption. It will, however, be interesting to watch how the JVM-polyglot scenario unfolds, as there is also a cost to projects if they try to build and maintain applications using multiple languages, even if they're based in the same runtime architecture. I suspect it will take a while before best practices emerge."

Essentially shrugging on the discussion, Grady Booch, chief scientist for software at IBM Research and a software and computer technology historian, quipped: €œA person who knows several languages is multilingual. A person who knows two languages is bilingual. A person who knows one language is an American. I know of zero projects of any interesting economic value that are not multilingual. But that doesn't portend the death of Java.€

And for his part, James Gosling, the creator of Java, candidly told eWEEK, €œJava, the programming language, was always something of a scam to convince C/C++ programmers this brave new world was something that they could understand. All the magic is in the JVM, and I'm thrilled by all the other languages using it, although I've only dabbled in them since none has really converted me. Scala came very close for a while, and I used it in a biggish project, but I ended up reverting. Scala has all sorts of built-in ideas about how to do various things like pattern matching; if it's not quite what you want, you end up fighting. I conceptually like Clojure, particularly its use of immutability, but I exhausted my lifetime tolerance for parentheses when writing my Ph.D. thesis.€

This whole thing about Java and death puts one in mind of Anne Thomas Manes€™ 2009 post that SOA is dead, which shed light on services and was not intended to nail the coffin on service orientation€”which is still alive and well. And like the constant attempts to bury the mainframe, the rumors of Java€™s demise have been greatly exaggerated.

Darryl K. Taft covers the development tools and developer-related issues beat from his office in Baltimore. He has more than 10 years of experience in the business and is always looking for the next scoop. Taft is a member of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) and was named 'one of the most active middleware reporters in the world' by The Middleware Co. He also has his own card in the 'Who's Who in Enterprise Java' deck.

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