Code of Ages

Go and Swift take another step up the programming-language ladder

Scott Rosenberg
Dec 4, 2014 · Unlisted

If you are a very large, rich technology company today, it seems it is no longer enough to have your own humongous data centers, luxurious buses, and organic lunch bars. You need your very own programming language, too.

The Essence of Go

Designing a programming language is all about tradeoffs — between what’s easier for the programmer and what best suits the machine.

Just as William Blake imagined seeing a world in a grain of sand, a programmer can see a punctuation mark as a door between dimensions. For the rest of us, of course, not so much.

The Origin of Swift

But if you sign on for Swift, you are buying into an entire universe that is shaped and owned by Apple. You will develop your programs inside toolboxes built and sold by Apple; you will run your programs on Apple machines, and have to rewrite your code in another language if you want it to run anywhere else; your fate is joined at the hip with Apple’s.

The Language Instinct

The truth is that the overwhelming majority of computer languages are products of big institutions — corporations or universities — because they have to be.

One thing we can say with some confidence is that these new languages are good. They help make programmers’ lives easier. They streamline the craft of programming. They incorporate promising new ideas. And they earn respect from developers inside and outside the corporate tent.


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