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Re: learning languages [Was: Re: Y Store now C++]

On Friday 14 March 2003 21:07, Adam Turoff wrote:
> Today, the IT world has standardized on two primary platforms:
> Windows and *NIX.  That has reduced the pressure to learn new
> langauges pick up new skills, and increased the cost for average
> programmers to design/learn/build their n+1st language.

I'm doubtful about this argument. 

Becoming a functioning programmer in a new language from the common 
message-passing OO variety is no big deal for people who already know 
another language from that pool. Of course, as always, mastery is 
another matter entirely.

In my experience, the excessively time-consuming part is learning new 
infrastructure. Keeping up with the Java API of the day, or with 
changing hot technologies such as CORBA, XML, web services, PHP, Zope, 
Apache, whatever. In comparison, learning a new syntax for familiar 
concepts is easy and quickly done.

>From my ad hoc list, PHP and Zope are noteworthy because they come part 
and parcel with their own, non-mainstream, languages. Does it detract 
from their use? I don't really know, but I tend to think it doesn't.

Ordinary programmers -- i.e., not language afficionados -- (are made to) 
learn a new language when it is perceived to enable them to do 
something they can't (easily) do with their existing tools. For a 
certain range of web applications it seems just to be a lot easier to 
use PHP or Zope instead of pre-existing technologies that are not 
specifically geared toward that purpose.

As far as I can tell, the language in itself is hardly ever the selling 
point. Java originally came with the promise of platform independence. 
What I consider even more important today, is that Java comes packaged 
with precooked solutions to a whole bunch of problems that arise in 
common enterprise applications. Java-the-language could be moderately 
different (and wildly better...), but the language is not what accounts 
for the mindshare of Java-the-platform. I contend that the later gets 
its boost from the solutions it offers.


Michael Schuerig              I was blessed with a birth and a death and
mailto:schuerig@acm.org         I guess I just want some say in between.
http://www.schuerig.de/michael/         --Ani DiFranco, "Talk To Me Now"