by Brendan Griffen of www.griffsgraphs.com

My View on Programming Languages


I’ve been writing about programming languages for nearly three years now. Many of my articles have been quite popular. What do the readership numbers for these articles tell us about the level of interest and significance of the languages I’ve covered? Let’s take a look…

Here are the top 18 articles ranked by total number of views** (updated May 1, 2017):

  1. The JavaScript phenomenon is a mass psychosis — 91.8k
  2. The Three Worst Programming Languages — 40.0k
  3. How learning Smalltalk can make you a better developer — 36.2k
  4. The Fall of the House of Node — 32.1k
  5. JavaScript is a Dysfunctional Programming Language — 31.1k
  6. A Word from The Beegoist — 26.6k
  7. The Little Language That Could — 24.6k
  8. The Lie That Has Beguiled A Generation Of Developers — 22.1k
  9. The Super Surrogates of JavaScript — 21.6k
  10. Dart is Dead — 21.1k
  11. The Smalltalk Revolution — 19.1k
  12. My View on Programming Languages — 17.3k
  13. The Three Big Lies About JavaScript — 17.0k
  14. Smalltalk and the Future of the Software Industry — 14.2k
  15. Down The JavaScript Hole — 13.3k
  16. The Five Top Reasons to Use JavaScript — 11.8k
  17. A Gentle Introduction to Amber — 11.4k
  18. The Top 10 Things Wrong with JavaScript — 10.2k

I used 10k as the threshold for inclusion. When an article has that many readers, it’s mighty impressive. TechBeacon, for example, regards 2k views as a successful article; in our recondite industry, that’s a significant number. When you write an article, are you saying anything people want to hear? What is the size of your intended audience?

Not surprisingly, JavaScript is a very popular subject, having 9 of the top 18 articles dedicated to it. Clearly, there is a great deal of animus toward this language, and deservedly so. It’s a cancer in the colon of the IT industry, and it has metastasized beyond the web into server side, desktop, mobile, and elsewhere. Hopefully, the arrival of WebAssembly will relegate this laughing stock of a language to a footnote in programming language history. In the meantime, we can all use transpiled languages.

The Three Worst Programming Languages also mentions PHP and C++. I don’t talk much about PHP because it’s exclusively a server-side web language and it’s been in major decline for years. While it’s true that the majority of the world’s websites are powered by PHP, these are by and large legacy software; PHP is no longer used for many new websites.

I don’t talk much about C++ because I respect this language a lot. It’s a Frankenlanguage…big, ugly, and powerful. It’s frickin’ scary shit! However, it’s also incredibly useful and versatile, being used nearly everywhere for every conceivable application. Along with its little brother C, they are the very foundation of the modern IT industry. C and C++ are not going away any time soon, if ever.

My article on Dart is #10 on the list. This surprised me. There seems to be an awful lot of interest in this language, even though it has been languishing in popularity. Personally, I think it’s a good language, especially if you’re looking for an alternative to that horrible, horrible JavaScript.

Go language is a hot topic. My article on the Beego web framework has been surprisingly popular. This is because Go is a very simple, easy-to-learn, and powerful language, especially for concurrent programming. If Smalltalk didn’t exist, Go would be my favourite programming language.

My seminal article on Smalltalk is the third most-read piece in my portfolio. This is very gratifying. It shows that there are still many, many people in our industry who are open to new ideas about how to develop software, who aren’t slaves to text files and text-based tools, and who recognize the fundamental beauty and power of Smalltalk.


** Including republication elsewhere.