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Choosing the right programming language

Choosing the right programming language for your next killer application could be harder than you think as there a number of dynamics out there that represent the facts and bike shedding opinions that represent the fiction.

I recently read two articles that put things into perspective. The first was TCL for network programming and the second was Boeing's 777 is 99.9% Ada.

The thesis for the TCL article comes down to this: TCL is not going to be overrun by a 100mb network. And the thesis for Ada: getting all of the developers "working together" (if I remember my Ada it has a strong producer/consumer contract) and built-in testing.

There are a lot of modern and legacy programming languages to choose from. No one language (or framework) is truly better than the other. They all have their warts.

  • package management
  • version skew
  • tabs vs spaces
  • functional vs procedural vs object-oriented
  • mindshare
  • cross platform
  • interpreted vs compiled
  • static vs dynamic linked libs
  • type system
  • dynamic declaration
  • testing
  • compile time
  • compile-time vs runtime dependencies
  • installation magic
  • libraries (CPAN is the aging Rock Star but still rocks hard)
I'm certain there are other qualities. This was not meant to be exhaustive.

My current go-to language is Google's Go and there are a number of reasons:
  • static compiled
  • support for Linux, BSD, Darwin/OSX, Windows along with capable cross-compiling
  • good standard library
  • testing framework
  • fast compiler/tool chain
  • no need for autotools
  • strong CI tools like drone and travis
  • I really like being able to transcode messages using structure tags
  • concurrency and channels are cool but not necessarily awesome
I've complained about Python3 and Perl6, in the past, but I still like them both; however; I think the next app/tool should be in TCL. (active state could not afford to continue it's development if there was no market for it) I would also add that TCL was the language that we used to develop the command and control code for the SnapGear brand of firewall/routers.


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