Developer Year in Review: Programming Languages

Java's wild ride, multicore drives functional, and a look at how the usual programming suspects stacked up in 2010.

Continuing our look at the year in development, let’s move on to the exciting land of languages. We’ll finish off next week with operating systems.

Java: Strategic asset or red-headed stepchild?

Watching Oracle’s machinations around Java can be more than a little confusing. One minute, they’re talking about forking it into free and commercial versions, a potential slap in the face to the open source community. Then they refused to let Apache’s Harmony project have access to key testing suites to certify the Java alternative. But then Oracle ended the year on their hands and knees begging Apache to stay in the JCP (and failing).

Meanwhile, we saw yet another “that’s not really Java” lawsuit. This time Oracle was suing Google over the Android implementation. Evidently, having Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer as dire enemies wasn’t good enough for Larry Ellison, so he’s trying to add Sergey Brin and Larry Page to his list as well.

On a side note, has anyone noticed how Java basically took over the mobile space? Of the three major smartphone platforms (sorry Windows, you have a ways to go before you make that list again …), two of them run Java of some sort. If you add in J2ME, which is inside many of the “clamshell” phones, Java is the dominant player in mobile.

It was also a good year for the JVM, as JVM-powered languages such as Clojure, Groovy and Scala leveraged the omnipresence of Java to gain traction.

I see your 8 cores, and raise you 8

Functional programming considers to gain in popularity in the years ahead, mainly as programmers try to come to terms with how to leverage all the multi-threaded power available to them in modern hardware. Along with the aforementioned Scala, Erlang and Haskell have also seen commercial deployments increase.

Francesco Cesarini gave a great talk at OSCON on how Erlang can help developers. Unfortunately, there was no transcript, because it had no side effects. (Trust me, the functional programmers in the readership are falling over laughing.)

In other language news …

Perl: Perl 6 still lags “Duke Nukem Forever” as far as being promised software still awaiting final shipment, but only by three years.

PHP: With Salesforce.com adding PHP to their language arsenal, you can now run PHP on all the major cloud-based platforms (the others being Amazon, Windows and Google.)

Ruby: No new major version of Ruby this year, nor any earth-shattering news, but it continues to be the language that all the cool kids use.

Python: Release 3.2 is on track for a Q1 2011 release. “Python” is also a lousy word to put into a Google News search, unless you enjoy reading about people smuggling snakes through customs and DPW workers making unexpected discoveries in sewers.

That’s it for this week. I’ll take a look at the year in operating systems in the next edition. Suggestions are always welcome, so please send tips or news here.

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  • http://dave.org.uk/ Dave Cross

    It’s true that we don’t have a final Perl 6 yet, but mentioning Rakudo Star might have put a slightly more positive spin on the story.

  • Alex Tolley

    “…JVM-powered languages such as Closure, Groovy and Scala …”

    Did you mean Clojure, not Closure?

  • HarryS

    “Of the three major smartphone platforms (sorry Windows, you have a ways to go before you make that list again …), two of them run Java of some sort.”

    actually, they are (in order of prevalence):

    1. straight Java ME (most midlevel phones) – the OS of most of these phones.

    2. Symbian – which uses Java ME as its primary programming platform.

    3. android – java programming platform, but not java ME

    4. blackberry – whose OS runs on a Java ME based platform.

    the lone holdout is the apple os, but then again wit the way android is going, that’s gonna be a “mac-like” niche soon.

  • prog

    Haskell is a medium sized dog