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The Harry Potter Theory of Programming Language Design

17 replies on 2 pages. Most recent reply: Aug 20, 2005 3:26 AM by Peter Hickman

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Thomas Guest

Posts: 216
Nickname: tag
Registered: Nov, 2004

Re: The Harry Potter Theory of Programming Language Design Posted: Aug 19, 2005 8:09 AM
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> I love reading the Harry Potter books, and recently came
> up with an interesting analogy between writing a series of
> fiction books and designing a programming language.

Hmmm, I'm convinced. First, I'm not convinced you love the books: the retro-fitted backwards compatibility seems to irritate you and you're Quidditched out. Second, I'm not convinced by the analogy: each new version of Python re-tells the same story -- or at least it has done since I've been using the language. Each new Harry Potter book is meant to tell a different story.

Python gets backwards compatibility about right. The core language is pretty stable, changes are backwards compatible; most of the action is in continual improvements to the libraries.

Robert Parnell

Posts: 22
Nickname: robparnl
Registered: Jul, 2005

Re: The Harry Potter Theory of Programming Language Design Posted: Aug 19, 2005 4:41 PM
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Aha! But, yes, you forget MS. You don't get to keep using your older VB app suites. Just wait five years, developers will be "locked" to using only what MS allows. (Just wait you

> I just don't understand this kind of whining. If you
> want to use VB 1.0, then why did you upgrade to vb.net?
> If you liked Python 1.5.2, then keep that version on
> on your machine.
<snipe troll>

Oh, I see, you just re-installing your whole language suite. Whenever, the new release comes out. Don't you? Then, finding out what breaks, down the road. Ok, I can understand that, it puts more money in your pocket, if management is funding it.

Peter Hickman

Posts: 41
Nickname: peterhi
Registered: Mar, 2003

Re: The Harry Potter Theory of Programming Language Design Posted: Aug 20, 2005 3:26 AM
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> I just don't understand this kind of whining. If you
> want to use VB 1.0, then why did you upgrade to vb.net?

Because we have to upgrade our operating systems to get the necessary levels of functionality and security and VB 1.0 breaks on later versions of the OS.

> If you liked Python 1.5.2, then keep that version on
> on your machine.

We can and we do, infact we have several versions of python on our unix systems. However the Microsoft way does not allow for this, the next version has to be so much better than the old one that no one could possibly want to keep the old one. You just must upgrade to the latest version, at least that is what their marketing people seem to think (despite evidence to the contrary).

> On a related note, I wonder if more time is lost trying to
> maintain backward compatibility and cementing in bugs for
> fear of people depending on the buggy behavior.

This used to be a big issue with IBM mainframe programmers, they fixed some long standing bugs in MVS/TSO (or was it VM/CMS) and loads of handcrafted applications bit the dust. The bugs were so well known that programmers had started to use them as features.

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