The blog of a thinkerer.
By @featureenvy

All rights reserved.

Is The Time of The Big Languages Coming To An End?

Go, Rust, Erlang, R, Closure and what all the new(er) languages around the block are all called. But one thing is certain: They are all niche languages. Why is that? Why don't we have another C or Java? One language to rule them all? If you have ever chosen a new language to program in, you know the steps: Look at whats available, dabble in them, find out what other people think about it. Or you might do it like I did. Chose a framework, and then learn the language that this framework is written in. This way I got started in Ruby.

Big Languages Are The Past, Right?

But is the time for big languages, ones that we use for everything, coming to an end? Maybe. The last "big" language is C#, and just because it got a lot of promotion from Microsoft. Before that? Java. C. Cobol. Let's not go further into the past please! And while no new all purpose language has come out, we get more and more niche languages. R for data processing. Rust for systems programing. ClosureScript for writing web applications in a LISP dialect.

Programming Languages Have A Short Lifespan

Is the time of the all purpose programming language coming to an end? I think so. There was a time when a company would use one language. One framework. One database. One operation system. But today? Employees chose their operation system. Databases are mix and matched freely for whatever purpose they serve best. And programming languages are intermingled in huge systems.

The Programming Language Lifecycle

Programming languages seem to have a limited lifetime. They take a few years to mature, are then picked up, and a few more years later, replaced by something new. And I think we should all embrace this change. Because we learn a lot about language design, programming. CPUs get faster and faster, so the language designers can get away with even more every year. Is this cycle inevitable? Yes. It is. There are some languages which try to dump every new thing into it (hello Java, hello C#!). But look at what happens when you just put everything in your fridge in a pan and let it cook for an hour. You get crap! The same thing happens to languages as well. The only fix is to do something new, which takes full advantage of that new paradigm.

No Good Programmer Knows Just One Language

Programmers who can just use one language are becoming a rarity. Does who do will soon be obsolete. So don't think just because you use Ruby you are save. Ruby is quite popular right now, so according to the language life cycle, it will soon be made obsolete by something better. Will everyone switch to the new thing? Of course not, there is a good reason why big companies still search for Cobol programmers. But those of us who want to stay ahead, who want to belong the circle of not just good programmers, but great programmers. We can't look the other way. We can't ignore all new languages and stay too comfy with our current languages.
Don't have a holy cow that you aren't ready to slaughter!
If you liked this post, you should consider hiring me freelance, part-time or full-time!