must there be only one...? (was Re: Eiffel vs. Ada) 
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 must there be only one...? (was Re: Eiffel vs. Ada)

:       ...
: >>What I object to is the common sentiment that "there can be
: >>only one" and that "there should be only one" which is C/C++. Why not
: >>5?  There is enough room in a trillion dollar global technology economy for
: >>a few object oriented languages.
: >>
: >I agree, but tell that to the many supervisors who are mandating C++
: >only (including my own).

: The problem is, while there surely is such room in "the global
: technology economy", IS there such room within any specific firm?
: Department?  Project?  Individual's head...?  I guess it depends
: on the "size" of each of these:-).


: A sad sinergy here is that firms/depts/.../people thus look for
: a single language to "fit ALL needs" -- which is inevitably
: going to make for BIG languages, complex and intricated ones
: (PL/I, Ada, C++, Common Lisp, Perl -- all qualify on the issue
: of size! -- about Eiffel, I'm not quite sure).

The size of some languages is a real problem. Sometimes this comes and
hits you in the face directly, for example, it was a common practice in
safety critical s/w for projects to define a 'safe subset' of Ada to
allow formal verification (I don't know whether it still is, I'm not
currently involved in any). Other times it sort of sneaks up on you,
for example in a code review when you realise that X's C code is just
too devious to be adequately reviewed against the original design.
Eiffel, in some ways, has the opposite problem. It is a very cleanly
defined language, one of the design aims being that there should only
be one way to do anything (ie. only one loop construct, not only one
algorithm :-). Generally this is laudable, but it can lead to some
clumsy constructs (for example, IMHO, extending a superclass method
can be very clumsy).

: Perhaps two -- even three -- simple and distinct SMALL languages,
: able to "cooperate" properly along clean interfaces, would in fact
: be quite a bit easier to learn and use than one LARGE one... but
: people don't really grasp "language size/complexity" all that
: well, and they get scared off by the "number" of languages.

Sad, but true. Is this a personality problem or a training problem?
I suspect it's a mixture. Certainly few of the engineers I work with
seem willing to acknowledge that choice of language, or combination
of languages, is an engineering decision, subject to the same constraints
as any other engineering decision; but I would have expected this issue
to be addressed at university. Personally I'm too old to have experienced
the choice at college, my engineering course taught fortran because
that was all engineers needed to know (just like the only maths they
needed was calculus!) Recent graduates tell me that some things, at
least, have changed there.

: Alex
: --
: DISCLAIMER: these are TOTALLY personal opinions and viewpoints, NOT connected
: in any way with my employer, nor any other organization or individual!

: CAD.LAB s.p.a., v. Ronzani 7/29, Casalecchio, Italia   Fax: +39 (51) 597120


Bill Williams                     |GEC-Marconi does not necessarily
GEC-Marconi Research Centre       |endorse my opinions!

Sun, 19 Apr 1998 03:00:00 GMT  
 [ 1 post ] 

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