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Heron-Centric: Ruminations of a Language Designer
On Promoting and Designing a Programming Language
by Christopher Diggins
October 22, 2004
Summary
The catch-22 of developing a programming language is that the onus is on the designer to promote the language unless they have some kind of corporate backing. This means that often you have to implement most of the functionality before people see the value in helping you create an implementation.

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Most of my activity with regards to Heron lately is focused on trying to explain the language, and demonstrate its value to as many people as possible. This endeavour is one that I do not particularly enjoy. At heart I am a programmer, not a businessman, and I would much rather be writing code in Heron.

The catch-22 of developing a programming language is that the onus is on the designer to promote the language unless they have some kind of corporate backing. This means that often you have to implement most of the functionality before people see the value in helping you create an implementation. I have done quite a lot of work on the Heron2C compiler but it is still not complete and probably won't be for quite some time. I made a very regrettable decision early on to implement the compiler by hand and using Delphi, so getting help on Heron2C is out of the question. My only hope for making the language popular is probably writing a Heron compiler in Heron, which I am currently doing but progress is slow.

Without a full implementation of a language, any claims about the language are viewed with great suspicion. There are several claims that I would like to be making publicly about Heron with regards to languages such as C++ Java and C#:

My dilemma is that these facts -- and yes, I do believe they are facts -- are not obvious to most people by simply reading through the language specification. The other problem is that proving these facts to people, is challenging because every individual has their own preconceptions.

What I am currently hoping for is that at least some people will recognize the significance of Heron from the specification alone, or the work that has been invested so far on Heron2C, and will start work independantly on creating an implementation of the language.

If someone is interested in implementing Heron, by all means please do, you will have my full and enthusiastic support, even if they modify the language. Heron is in the public domain, which means that people are free to implement it how they see fit. If anyone is sitting on the fence with regards to Heron, I would really like to know what it would take to prepare a more convincing argument for the language.

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About the Blogger

Christopher Diggins is a software developer and freelance writer. Christopher loves programming, but is eternally frustrated by the shortcomings of modern programming languages. As would any reasonable person in his shoes, he decided to quit his day job to write his own ( www.heron-language.com ). Christopher is the co-author of the C++ Cookbook from O'Reilly. Christopher can be reached through his home page at www.cdiggins.com.

This weblog entry is Copyright © 2004 Christopher Diggins. All rights reserved.

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