Java as Baby Step

James Robertson thinks that Java is an interruption in the forward progress of software development. It’s nice to see this meme spread a bit; I’ve thought the same thing since 1996 or so. During ‘95 and ‘96, watching Java start to gain traction, I was amazed by the ignorance and ire surrounding many of what I considered Java’s best features:

  • the virtual machine
  • garbage collection
  • methods “virtual” (in C++ parlance) by default
  • a singly-rooted class hierarchy

I came to view Java as a baby step that would serve primarily to soften up developers’ attitudes toward these things, thus shortening the leap required to adopt even better languages like Lisp, Smalltalk, and their ilk. I don’t think I was alone in believing that, but I didn’t hear anyone else saying it for a while.

It is nice to see people returning to serious language research again. Efforts like the Feyerabend Project and more practically focused offshoots like OOPSLA’s Onward! track and the Post-Java Workshops (as well as increasing grass-roots interest in languages like Ruby, Haskell, Squeak, Oz, and even an ongoing Lisp revival) give me hope that we’ll be ready to take a larger step soon.

The Hacks Book I Want

(Thanks to James for the bit-smithery to realize my idea.)

Happy Birthday, Mike

I just realized my childhood friend Mike Datwyler would have been 40 today. (He didn’t make it to 20.)

I still miss you, Mike.

Yip’s Law

Brian Marick drew my attention to Jason Yip’s take on Gilb’s Law: “Anything can be made measurable in a way that is inferior to not measuring it at all.” I agree that this corollary deserves equal status.

(Yip’s comment is also a fabulous demonstration of the power of few words. Compare it to my blog from last year on roughly the same topic. Yip uses less than 20 words to say the same thing, more powerfully, that I said in about 300. *sigh*. Must remember: minimalism.)

That noise you just heard …

That noise you just heard was the earth grinding to a halt on its axis.

After way too many years, I’ve finally done a substantial overhaul on my website. Among other things, the rework removes some annoyances that were getting in the way of blogging. Hopefully there’ll be at least a trickle of new content here, in addition to the new look.

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