How Programming Languages Are Like Superheroes

By Darryl K. Taft  |  Posted 2014-07-14 Print this article Print

We're in the midst of blockbuster season—with some of the biggest movies of the summer being released in the next couple of weeks. This year, the studios are ramping up on superhero flicks, with everything from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to Hercules being resurrected from the cinematic vault. Every fanboy has his or her favorite comic book superhero adaptation—sometimes based on simple personal preference and other times on specific character traits like adaptability and strength. This brings to mind a similar analogy in the application development world. Even as new languages grow in popularity, older ones continue to see dedicated fan support. The Python language is often represented by a reptilian creature, a snake—although the language's creator, Guido van Rossum, says he named it after the Monty Python comedy troupe—and has some similarities to Godzilla. Other languages such as Java, C, SQL and COBOL also have features with traits similar to action heroes. For instance, similar to the Transformers, Java, with its utilitarian nature and its "write once, run anywhere" legacy, is useful for all types of applications—from mobile to Internet of things (IoT) and embedded systems to large enterprise apps. This eWEEK slide show, based on our own analysis and insight from Michael Benedict, a vice president at Progress Software, looks at how some of this year's biggest superhero flicks compare to our favorite programming languages.

  • How Programming Languages Are Like Superheroes

    by Darryl K. Taft
    1 - How Programming Languages Are Like Superheroes
  • Python = Godzilla

    Yes, both Godzilla and Python are derived from reptiles, but that's not where the comparison to the radioactive behemoth ends with Python. The Python language is one of the most widely used due to its readability and compact syntax, ensuring that even beginners can figure out how to use it. In fact, Python is now the introductory language of choice for leading U.S. universities, incinerating the competition when it comes to other languages. And it stands the test of time after all these years—just like Godzilla.
    2 - Python = Godzilla
  • Java = Transformers

    As the first purely object-oriented programming language, Java was developed on the principle of "write once, run anywhere." It can adapt to multiple platforms, just like Transformers can adapt to conceal their identities as machines in the real world. You can't be a programmer and not know Java, as it's used to develop enterprise-level applications and video games. Plus, every programmer worth his or her salt knows Optimus Prime. Autobots, roll out!
    3 - Java = Transformers
  • C = Hercules

    Just as Hercules is a legend for using his strength to help others, C is a legend for helping create other languages. One of the oldest and most widely used languages, C provides the building blocks for many other popular languages, such as C#, Java and Python. The language is mostly used for implementing operating systems and embedded applications. Its strength, like Hercules' strength, lies in its dependability and support for other systems.
    4 - C = Hercules
  • Ruby = Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

    A relative baby of the language world (developed in 1995), Ruby is only now growing in popularity. Used by a younger generation of programmers, Ruby is simple and readable. It's used mainly for developing Web-based applications—where all the teenagers hang out these days. The founder of the language, Yukihiro "Matz" Matsumoto, said, "I hope to see Ruby help every programmer in the world to be productive, and to enjoy programming, and to be happy. That is the primary purpose of Ruby language." The Ninja Turtles might say the same about pizza!
    5 - Ruby = Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
  • COBOL = The Expendables

    Just like many of the stars of "The Expendables" film series (Sylvester Stallone, et al.) are considered the grandfathers of today's action heroes, COBOL is the grandfather of programming languages. An oldie but a goodie, it's been around the block. Because COBOL is a legacy language, it's a part of many of the applications we use today. It's demonstrated its reliability over the years and won't be going away anytime soon. The aging fan base keeps it alive.
    6 - COBOL = The Expendables
  • Perl = Spider-Man

    Since Perl was developed in 1987, it has undergone many changes and revisions—currently resting at version 5. Its roadmap has been similar to the Spider-Man franchise, which originally premiered on TV back in 1977 and has since been remade into two successful franchises. Used for graphics, system admin and other applications, Perl has been nicknamed "the Swiss Army chainsaw of scripting languages" and has built a powerful following in the programming field. As Peter Parker would say, however, "With great power comes great responsibility."
    7 - Perl = Spider-Man
  • SQL = Captain America

    A special-purpose language designed for managing data in a relational database management system, SQL has been enhanced with many added features over its lifetime. Just like Steve Rogers, SQL was initially a frail language based on relational algebra and calculus, but it has become one of the most widely used database languages in the world, encompassing capabilities such as data insert, scheme creation and data access control. Through genetic enhancements and advanced technology, Steve Rogers was similarly transformed into Captain America, a superhero with lightning-quick reflexes and a near-indestructible shield. You could say that SQL is the First Avenger of the database management world.
    8 - SQL = Captain America
  • JavaScript = First Guardians of the Galaxy

    The First Guardians of the Galaxy have had a long and sordid past, always overshadowed by the more successful Thor and the other Avengers—similar to JavaScript, which has a tendency to be overshadowed by the more-famous Java. The Guardians control space-time to protect the galaxy, while JavaScript gives developers the power to control the browser as one of the fundamental technologies of the Web. If you're looking to code professionally, you need to become the Star-Lord of the JavaScript Galaxy.
    9 - JavaScript = First Guardians of the Galaxy

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