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Heron-Centric: Ruminations of a Language Designer
Rethinking the Next Heron Release
by Christopher Diggins
July 1, 2005
I have decided to focus my energies on making sure the next version of Heron is a lot more practical. I have decided to put aside some of my more ambitious features and return to the basics of a succesful language: tools, libraries, and ease of use.


Recently I had intense expsure to an excellent programming language, Scala, which inspired me to turn back to Heron, and breathe new life into it.

Martin Odersky has, in my opinion, been doing so many things right with Scala, and it revealed to me the mistakes I have with regards to Heron. One thing that Scala has, as do other successful languages, is the ability to seamlessly integrate with an existing popular language (in Scala's case, it is Java). In that vein I have decided to make Heron completely compatible with C++, and I have decided to release the next version of Heron with a very large standard library culled from Boost, STLSoft, wxWidgets, and my own OOTL.

I think that by making sure that Heron has a powerful standard library, it could contribute significantly to its success in the future.

The main selling point of the new Heron is going to be structural subtyping (see the BIL for more information on what I mean by this), and Programming with Contract support. After this there will just be a long list of niceties, which amount primarily to syntactic sugar. However, I think syntactic sugar can still be important, after all most of C++ is in fact synactic sugar for C.

The next Heron release may be slightly less arousing to the language hobbyists, but hopefully I will be able to provide programmers with a truly useful tool which enables them to more quickly develop efficient and correct software.

Now would be a great time to put forth features you would like to see in the next Heron.

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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 ( ). Christopher is the co-author of the C++ Cookbook from O'Reilly. Christopher can be reached through his home page at

This weblog entry is Copyright © 2005 Christopher Diggins. All rights reserved.

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