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A short interlude from my series of posts on Objects. Steve's last comment got me thinking. Why are some programming languages more popular than others? It would be easy to put it all down to cynical marketing by vendors, but that can't be the whole story. It was this sentence in particular that got me thinking:

It may sound neat to allow developers to modify the language, but having used Smalltalk for more than 20 years, I have had to deal with the chaos that can result when different developers modifications conflict. I would rather have a controlled and organised process.

So an ordered and controlled process is seen as desirable. Ok but controlled by who exactly? The truth is that most people feel more comfortable being lead. I can wax lyrical about the technical superiority of languages like Self, Smalltalk and Lisp as compared to lesser languages like Java and C# (and even Ruby and Python), but this doesn't matter a jot if people just aren't 'comfortable' with these supposedly 'superior' languages.

With Java there is minimal degrees of freedom. If you want to iterate, there is one (non-deprecated) way. Want a call back there is one way. You do things the 'Gosling way'. It is all pre-packaged and rather assuring. I must admit when I first used java I found it's simplicity re-assuring too. It was definitely welcomed after the explosion of constructs that accompanied the transition from C to C++. C# has used the same formula, after all it worked for Java. Java has taken "the shrink-wrapped approach" further, beyond the base language. The whole J2EE application stack was supposed to result in "one way" to build enterprise applications. Reducing software development to painting by numbers.



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