Advanced Script Languages Benefits

By Steven Vaughan-Nichols  |  Posted 2005-06-09 Print this article Print

"> Advanced script languages are good for far more than just getting your laundry lists of automatic network jobs working, though. You can use them to build complex applications. For example, the best anti-spam, add-on program around, POPFile, is built on Perl.
What Monad brought to the table, which I thought gave it a real shot at being an outstanding shell programming language, was that instead of simply passing structured text from one pipe to another to a result, you could also pass .Net objects.
This meant you could work directly with ADO (ActiveX Data Objects) from the command line or, far more likely, a script program. This in turn meant that you could easily access, and act on, a really wide variety of data stores. For example, with the right connectors, you could quickly build programs that could easily update a MySQL staff and equipment database with information hidden with AD (Active Directory). Neat! Now, power alone is darn dangerous. As the saying goes, anyone can screw up, but to really screw up you need a computer. Microsoft has long been guilty of creating program and operating system IPCs (interprocess communications) mechanisms, like DDE (Dynamic Data Exchange) and OLE (Object Linking and Embedding), that are inherently insecure in a network environment. Indeed, as far as Im concerned, its these fundamental security mistakes that have made Windows security a bad joke. Monad, which would have enabled users to remotely execute commands, certainly had major potential for abuse. Eric Chien, a Symantec researcher, has said that he feared Monad might lead to a new wave of "script viruses," like 1999s Melissa virus. Chiens right, of course. Given Microsofts dismal security track record, youd be a fool to trust Monad security. Still, perhaps Im being irrationally optimistic, but I really thought that Microsoft was finally learning some security lessons and that Monad might, just might, be able to balance security and usefulness. Well, its all moot now. Whether its because Microsoft couldnt solve Monads security concerns or because handling objects in a scripting language as easily as PHP handles strings proved beyond Microsofts developers, were not going to see Monad anytime soon. This leads to one final question: What is going to be left in Longhorn that will make anyone want to "upgrade" to it, anyway? Senior Editor Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols has been using and writing about operating systems since the late 80s and thinks he may just have learned something about them along the way. He can be reached at Check out eWEEK.coms for Microsoft and Windows news, views and analysis.

Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols is editor at large for Ziff Davis Enterprise. Prior to becoming a technology journalist, Vaughan-Nichols worked at NASA and the Department of Defense on numerous major technological projects. Since then, he's focused on covering the technology and business issues that make a real difference to the people in the industry.

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