Thursday, January 18, 2007

CodeMash - Day 0 - Opening discussion on languages

I arrived that the Kalahari around 6:30 last night and I was just able to make it to the opening night panel on programming languages. I was a little disappointed to show up and find a stage with chairs and not the fighting pit I had imagined on the drive up to Sandusky. Instead of lashing two people from different languages at the wrist and giving them knives to fight it out Thunderdome style I was instead treated to a fairly good discussion on languages and where programming

The panel was hosted by Bruce Eckels, with the panel being comprised of Jay Pipes (last minute addition for Ted Nolund who was delayed), Neal Ford, David Stanek, Bill Wagner, and James Ward.

The panel was driven by questions from the audience and we were able to get six questions in about the conference. Rather than give you my somewhat sketchy notes on the panel I thought I’d just post my highlights of the panel. They recorded the session and I imagine you’ll be able to download it at some point but I’m not sure where or when that is going to happen.

The first question of the night was “In your opinion what will be the most significant advancement for development languages?” and Bruce’s response was a solution for the concurrency problem, i.e. multi-threaded applications running on new multi-core CPU’s. It seems like there has always been some balance in the race between software and hardware but as of late hardware has gotten much farther ahead with the new focus on multi-core processors. I touched on this a bit with my CES post last week so it was nice to see other people seeing the same problem.

Neal answered the question with the rise of Domain specific languages, David with Pattern development, and James talked about better User interface development (no disagreement here)

The final question of the night was also fairly interesting (the other four questions asked were good but the first and last were my favorites). The question was which languages should people learn in college. Most agreed that Java was not really the best language and that something like Ruby or Python were best as they didn’t force you to see the world a certain way. Assembler was also recommended as people need to learn how things work as it should make them better programmers.


I found this interesting because I actually took COBOL in college and as an elective took some C++ since I knew it was something that was fairly hot in the market (note: my degree is in Management Info Systems and not Systems Analysis so it’s not a hardcore degree…people who know me are know saying “Ah, it all makes sense now…”). I’ve gone back to my school to talk a few times over the years and they’ve since moved to Java and .NET. I might have to forward this info back to some of my old professors to see what they think.

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