Tim’s Weblog Tim's Weblog
Tim Strehle’s links and thoughts on Web apps, managing software development and Digital Asset Management, since 2002.
2004-11-19

The Next Language

John Lim points to Peter Yared's (former CTO of Sun's application server division) article The Next Language (from September 2003):

"The Java API's grow into a morass of inconsistent and incomprehensible API's, even the most simple things proved to be very complicated.

[...] So let's look at the requirements for today's corporate applications:

  • * Handle XML (dynamic data with fluctuating types) well
  • * Quickly process text into objects and out of objects
  • * Most apps have limited logic consisting mainly of control flow
  • * No need for portability beyond Linux/x86 and Windows/x86
  • * Very thin veneer over the operating system for system services
  • * Tuned for 1-2 processor x86 machines

Given these requirements, Java does not fare very well:

  • * XML data is inherently unstructured and it has to be shoehorned into and out of Java, which is a strongly typed language that does not like new types of objects popping into its applications.
  • * Java is horrific at processing text since it can't manipulate strings directly.
  • * While Java is great for complicated applications, it is not ideally suited for specifying control flow.
  • * Java is a magically portable platform, but there is no longer a requirement for portability other than Linux and Windows.
  • * Since there is no longer a portability requirement, developers want only a very thin veneer over operating system services like sockets, while Java provides a huge virtual machine in between the application and the operating system.
  • * Most J2EE implementations are tuned for 4-16 processor SMP boxes

So if Java does not meet these requirements, what does? Apparently what is needed is a language/environment that is loosely typed in order to encapsulate XML well and that can efficiently process text. It should be very well suited for specifying control flow. And it should be a thin veneer over the operating system.

Most Linux distribution in fact bundle three such languages, PHP, Python, and Perl."

Fri, 19 Nov 2004 11:51:59 +0000