Re.Mark

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Polyglot Programming at the AIC

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Thanks to everyone who attended my session on Polyglot Programming at AIC earlier today.  The ability to combine languages to achieve simpler solutions is worth consideration, although the potential downsides of adopting multiple languages need to be borne in mind.  In truth, many of us are already doing a form of polyglot programming – combining a programming language server side (such as C#) with Javascript on the client and SQL for data access.  However, this form of polyglot programming arises passively and is done because we have to and not because we have deliberately and actively selected a set of languages.  In order to be successful with polyglot programming, there are two crucial components: a platform and architecture.  The platform should provide language interoperability and the architecture should provide guidance on which languages to use and where in the architecture they are appropriate (taking into account that this guidance will evolve over time as you gather information and feedback about what really works for you and your team.)  In discussing the platform, I briefly touched on some of the features in .NET 4 and talked about the trends in language design.  I’ll be expanding on these platform themes and diving into a little more detail about .NET 4.0 at TechDays in April.

Here are the links and references I used in my session:

Nick Watts’ post on polyglot programming (I used his definition)

The definition of polyglot in the Compact Oxford English Dictionary

Neal Ford’s post on polyglot programming

Bertrand Meyer’s article on polyglot programming in Dr.Dobb’s

Information about the Babel Project at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

Ted Neward’s MSDN article The Polyglot Programmer: Mixing and Matching Languages

History of Programming Languages

Hans Christian Fjeldberg’s thesis on Polyglot Programming

Dean Wampler’s presentation on Polyglot and Poly-Paradigm Programming

I also referred to Ola Bini’s idea of fractal programming.

I suggested that there are two practical areas where experimentation with polyglot programming could be beneficial with existing applications and systems:  extension and testing.  By extension, I mean the ability to customise and add functionality – which is a great fit for a dynamic language like IronRuby or IronPython.  Testing is also an area where dynamic languages have much to offer and I’d suggest taking a look at Ben Hall’s presentation that he gave at QCon earlier this year.

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Written by remark

March 31, 2010 at 5:15 pm

Posted in .NET, Architecture, Design, Events

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