Here, I describe an interpreted subset of Heron called HeronScript and I talk a bit about my short and long term plans.
As readers of this blog may or may not know the primary tool for Heron I am developing is HeronFront, a Heron to C++ translator. HeronFront is still a long-away from being a stable and easy to use tool. I plan on releasing the code and binaries for Heron in September as promised, but I won't be providing much support. It will be an experimental version (Pre-Alpha I guess is the correct term?). However I am using HeronFront to develop a HeronScript interpreter. This interpreter is written in a mix of C++ and Heron, and is actually quite trivial because of the dynamic functionality inherent in Heron.
HeronScript is a dynamically typed subset of Heron. Even though Heron is for the most part statically typed, it still supports dynamic querying and invocation of methods. This means you can have relatively seamless integration between Heron and a HeronScript interpreter (which will be part of the standard library).
This in of itself is perhaps unexciting except for the fact that Heron itself is a statically and strongly typed compiled language. Try to imagine if C++ had the functionality of a dynamic language, and it should give you a rough idea of what I am trying to do here.
The short-term plan is to release and promote HeronScript, and then write a programming tutorial for beginners. The long range plan is much more ambitious. I hope that ultimately Heron will be an attractive language for people who need the efficiency of a statically compiled language and the ease of development of a dynamic language.
Heron, HeronFront, HeronScript, Heron translators, killer apps, teaching aids. These are impressive ambitions. Promises of future release dates of pre-alpha versions with little intent to support them are less impressive.
You've said elsewhere that you've been working on Heron for ten years. That would make it about the same age as Java but without a working version that I'm aware of. You also said the you want to do the development yourself and aren't keen on the idea of collaborating with others in Heron's development. One can't help but ask therefore, are these projects just for your own amusement or are you expecting that others are going to pick up on these things in some way and run with them? And if so, where?
> Heron, HeronFront, HeronScript, Heron translators, killer > apps, teaching aids. These are impressive ambitions. > Promises of future release dates of pre-alpha versions > s with little intent to support them are less impressive.
I plan on supporting providing HeronScript in the short-term. It would simply be too time-consuming for me to provide extensive support for a tool such as HeronFront before it was stable.
> You've said elsewhere that you've been working on Heron > for ten years. That would make it about the same age as > Java but without a working version that I'm aware of.
The last public working version was a Heron to C++ translator was posted on November 10, 2004 at www.heron-language.com/downloads.html . It was written in Delphi. The specification of the language has evolved significantly since then. I have a working translator, and a working interpreter on my computer.
> You > also said the you want to do the development yourself and > aren't keen on the idea of collaborating with others in > Heron's development.
I am surprised that I said that. I am definitely interested in collaborations. Just goes to show you how insane I actually am.
> One can't help but ask therefore, > are these projects just for your own amusement or are you > expecting that others are going to pick up on these things > in some way and run with them? And if so, where?
Heron is a very serious project. I am at the present moment working on it full-time ( I take time off on occasion to write about C++ ). I am confident that others will eventually develop tools for Heron, but I will have to lead the way first. I think this will happen once there is some mainstream usage of HeronScript and HeronFront.
> I hope you take this in good faith and no see it as a > quip.
> But I had to ask, if you are full time on Heron, and its > under a *GNU-type* lisence
To be precise it's public domain, which has nothing to do with GNU. I believe its important for people to have the right to sell and own software, which is in direct opposition to the GNU philosophy.
>, how in the world do you make > a living?
I write regularly for the C++ Users Journal, and on occasion Doctor Dobbs Journal. I also wrote part of the upcoming C++ Cookbook for O'Reilly (due out in November). My next commercial endeavour will be to write a book on programming for beginners which uses HeronScript. I also on occasion give talks and do some freelance work.