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Heron-Centric: Ruminations of a Language Designer
What's up with Diggins?
by Christopher Diggins
January 14, 2006
So am I actually doing anything?


So, as some people may know, I have a tendency to bite off more than I can chew. I invested a fair amount of work into building a C++ library called the OOTL. I decided that this project is simply too much work for someone trying to at the same time build a programming language. Especially when it comes to supporting all of the nasty C++ compilers out there, and providing proper support to users etc. It is still available in the public domain at, and contains some rather unique code. I simply don't have the time or energy to maintain it, not if I want to try and make something of Heron.

Well CUJ closed it's doors, and as one reader said to me, "where are you going to publish your C++ erotica now?". Well at the current moment, I don't plan on publishing anymore C++ erotica. C++ was a bit of a phase for me, I feel like I now know about as much about the language as I care to. At one point, you stop caring whether technique X conforms to the standard, or not. I just want to write software, and frankly I don't care if some MIPS architecture running older versions of GCC bombs or not. To be honest, C++ was a just a means to an end.

I spent the last couple of years trying to get to know C++ as well as I could in order to learn from Stroustrup's expertise and experiences. Despite its shortcomings C++ is a very carefully designed language which elegantly satisfies all of it design goals. I chose C++ as the language to master because the guiding principles are very closely aligned with my own, and the language does things in a way which makes sense to me. I only have minor philosophical differences with Stroustrup's original design, and the fact that I think design by committee, is just a fundamentally bad idea. I think 10 year release cycles, says it all.

On a personal note, I have been applying for work lately. Some people ask me, "how do you make money?". Well to be blunt, I don't. In the past I started up some successful online businesses, and I was living on my savings and residual revenue (and my patient and loving wife). Let me tell you, writing about programming does not pay very well. The whole poor independent researcher thing was fun for a while, but it eventually wears thin.

People keep asking me, "so where is Heron at?". Over the last couple of years I keep learning new things, so it has the unfortunate effect of bringing me one step forward and two steps back. I have been programming computers for 20 years, and I think I learned as much over the last two years as I did in the first 18. Thankfully, I am starting to get a grip on things, and a certain confidence in my vision. The other challenge is that I have had a hard time deciding who my audience should be (it's still vague, but at least I know what I want to do next). This voice in my head keeps saying "build it and they will come".

Heron now has a prototype Heron to C++ translator which currently translates the behavioral traits to C++, as I described in my excruiatingly long last post. I am currently adding support for classes, and I am close to being finished. The next release will probably come bundled with a GCC binary for windows, and a tool which coordinates the two tools. I am working hard on trying to get this out the door, but I can't promise anything.

I know the following request is not a "cool" thing to do on a blog, but I don't have the luxury of not utilizing all my resources, and it is still *my* blog, not a newsgroup or moderated discussion forum. Here goes: if anyone has some interesting and challenging work for a programming language designer / C++ expert willing to relocate, please check out my C.V. and give me a shout at cdiggins at gmail dot you know what.

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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 © 2006 Christopher Diggins. All rights reserved.

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