TweetFollow Us on Twitter

May 92 - Why OODLs are Good for You

Why OODLs are Good for You

Jeffrey W Stulin

Jeffrey W Stulin Computer Software Consultants AppleLink: D1104

End of a Friendship?

During a recent visit to Florida, while staying with friends (a pair of authors), I had a frustrating, ninety minute, one a.m. argument about programming languages.

My friend Bob has had no formal computer education, yet he was able to create a sophisticated poker playing program written totally in HyperTalk. He proudly demonstrated the program running on his new Powerbook 170 (Yes, a 170. He is a best-selling author....)

After the demonstration we discussed Bob's plans for continuing his computer self-education. He wanted to know why he should learn another computer language. After all couldn't you program anything using HyperTalk?

I went into my usual b/s about Turing Machines, and yes you could theoretically use HyperTalk for all programming, but that HyperTalk was impractical for many problems.

"Like what?" he asked innocently.

During the next hour my blood pressure rose to 200 over 100; we wasted a tree trying to outline examples and counter examples; Bob went through half a bottle of scotch; both wives fell asleep in their comfy chairs (clearly not software ideologues); and I ranted eloquently about both practical and obscure issues in software development. But Bob just sat there shaking his head and repeating:

"Couldn't I just write a HyperTalk function to do that?"

What really annoyed me was that he was right: you can do just about anything with a HyperTalk function. At least anything that Bob could conceive of, since he has only had the HyperTalk language to express his programming thoughts.

Bob and I lacked a common vocabulary to talk about software concepts beyond his experience. Arrays, objects, structures, file management, and typed variables are a mystery to him.

End of my credibility in MADA?

This is the same problem I have in convincing those of you without significant dynamic language experience that OODLs-Object-Oriented Dynamic Languages such as Macintosh Common Lisp (MCL) and Smalltalk-are a good idea. We don't have a common vocabulary for communication.

Here is a statement that will get me into trouble. Putting aside the issue of runtime performance I claim that:

The set of interesting problems which can be reasonably explored and expressed using an object oriented dynamic language such as MCL is, while not a proper superset, much larger than the set which can be reasonably explored and expressed by a static language such as C++.

By "explored and expressed" I mean that, when faced with a problem, a programmer must first figure out how to solve it and then express the solution using a programming language.

Their ability to explore and express a large set of problems is the reason that dynamic languages have been the mainstay of Artificial Intelligence, which has tried to solve the "hardest" problems.

I can see that many of you are shaking your head in skepticism. After all, if OODLs are so good, why doesn't everybody use them? (You may also want to ask yourself why object-oriented programming didn't catch on in the 1960's when it was invented.)

The traditional answer (there are others, but this is the big one) is that their runtime performance characteristics are poor. They are slow, they use lots of memory, and they are occasionally interrupted by garbage collection. Which leads me to my second claim:

Advances in hardware and compiler technology will soon overcome the traditional runtime performance problems of OODLs.

In my yet-to-be-published third MCL article, I will note that figuring out how to squeeze performance out of MCL is not easy, but once done (or, in my case, once told how by the MCL development team), performance, as an issue, almost disappears.

Based on these claims, I draw a conclusion:

Sometime around the end of this decade, OODLs will be the mainstream tools used for developing software applications.

Don't take my word for it, I'm just some fool babbling over the link-waves. You can believe Larry Tesler, whose keynote address at the MADA conference said much the same thing. In fact, you don't even have to believe me about what Larry said; my understanding is that his speech is included on the conference CD. Watch him for yourself.

Is there Help for bob?

You may have noticed that this article is filled with philosophical hot air and is disappointingly thin on evidence, just like my argument with Bob. I admit my sins, ask forgiveness, and make a promise. If you, the MADA community, show an interest in OODLs, then I (and others) will write a series of articles exploring aspects of OODLs which will prove the claims stated here. Topics will include: What makes dynamic languages so expressive, dynamically vs. statically typed variables, automatic memory management, runtime performance of dynamic languages, etc. etc. And I will make Bob read them all.

I believe OODLs are in our professional future, that we can have a say in the direction of OODL development, and that programming with OODLs is more productive and pleasant than is programming using the current crop of static languages. That is why I am a co-founder of the new OODL/MCL SIG.

Interested? Join the OODL/MCL SIG and let me know.

 

Community Search:
MacTech Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

How to become the ultimate robot warrior...
Chrono Strike is a delightfully immersive beat ‘em up with a sense of humor (any game with a good Sims reference gets points in my book). [Read more] | Read more »
Tips and tricks to get a higher score in...
Snow Roll is a devilish endless runner very much in the vein of Flappy Bird. It revels in its dastardly level of difficulty, and doesn’t really care how angry you get at it as it knows you’ll keep coming back for more. [Read more] | Read more »
How to win big in Slots Deluxe
Cheating while gambling is illegal and morally wrong, and in some parts of the world it leads to men with names like Vinnie "Six Knuckles" Manchenzo beating you to a pulp in a dark alley. [Read more] | Read more »
How to take over the world in Dictator 2
Running a country isn't easy - especially when you're a dictator who wants to take over the world and crush everyone in your path while you do it. [Read more] | Read more »
Tips and tricks to get a higher score in...
Tank.iois - you guessed it! - another multiplayer arena battler likeAgar.io and Slither.io. It does differentiate itself by putting you in a tiny tank though, so it's not exactly the same. To help you get that all-important high score, we've got a... | Read more »
How to unlock characters in One Tap Tenn...
As the title suggests, One Tap Tennis requires only a single tap to play its particular brand of tennis, and rewards you with a ton of unlockable characters if you perform well. Fortunately for you, we at 148Apps have got a few tips and tricks to... | Read more »
Grab it now: Game Craft’s Legend of War...
The real time strategy game is now available for you to sink your teeth into, through the App Store and Google Play. Combining elements of skill, strategy and empire building, Legend of War is a real gamers’ game. [Read more] | Read more »
Skateboard Party 3 ft. Greg Lutzka (Gam...
Skateboard Party 3 ft. Greg Lutzka 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $1.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: Skateboard Party is back! This third edition of the popular sports franchise features professional skater... | Read more »
Cubious (Games)
Cubious 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: Cubious – How smart are you? How high is your IQube? Solve the impossible puzzles to find out, and help a lost little cube find his... | Read more »
Goat Simulator Waste of Space (Games)
Goat Simulator Waste of Space 1.1 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $4.99, Version: 1.1 (iTunes) Description: ** IMPORTANT - SUPPORTED DEVICESiPhone 4S, iPad 2, iPod Touch 5 or better.** | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

Enterprise Workers Pick Technology Over Perks...
New Adobe study shows surprising attitudes about office jobs and where the future of work is heading. Adobe has released survey findings revealing that a surprising 70 percent of U.S. office workers... Read more
Memorial Day Weekend Sale: $50-$100 off 11-in...
B&H Photo has 13″ and 11″ MacBook Airs with 256GB SSDs on sale for $50-$100 off MSRP. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY sales tax only: - 11″ 1.6GHz/256GB MacBook Air: $999 $100 off MSRP... Read more
Memorial Day Weekend Sales: Apple MacBook Pro...
B&H Photo has 13″ and 15″ Retina MacBook Pros on sale for up to $210 off MSRP. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY tax only: - 15″ 2.2GHz Retina MacBook Pro: $1799 $200 off MSRP - 15″ 2.5GHz... Read more
Memorial Day Weekend Sales: Apple iMacs and M...
Take up to $150 off the price of a new iMac or Mac mini at the following Apple resellers this Memorial Day weekend: iMacs: B&H Photo has 21″ and 27″ iMacs on sale for up to $150 off MSRP... Read more
Apple refurbished Retina MacBook Pros availab...
Apple has Certified Refurbished 2015 13″ and 15″ Retina MacBook Pros available for up to $380 off the cost of new models. An Apple one-year warranty is included with each model, and shipping is free... Read more
Apple refurbished 11-inch MacBook Airs availa...
Apple has Certified Refurbished 11″ MacBook Airs (the latest models), available for up to $170 off the cost of new models. An Apple one-year warranty is included with each MacBook, and shipping is... Read more
Goal Zero and OtterBox Partner to Expand iPh...
Goal Zero, specialists in portable power, have announced a partnership with OtterBox, brand smartphone case protection, to offer the Slide and Slide Plus Batteries as modules compatible with the new... Read more
15-inch Retina MacBook Pros on sale for up to...
B&H Photo has 15″ Retina MacBook Pros on sale for up to $210 off MSRP. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY tax only: - 15″ 2.2GHz Retina MacBook Pro: $1799 $200 off MSRP - 15″ 2.5GHz Retina... Read more
Clearance 2015 13-inch MacBook Airs available...
B&H Photo has clearance 2015 13″ MacBook Airs available for $250 off original MSRP. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY sales tax only: - 13″ 1.6GHz/4GB/128GB MacBook Air (MJVE2LL/A): $799... Read more
Apple refurbished Apple TVs available for up...
Apple has Certified Refurbished 32GB and 64GB Apple TVs available for up to $30 off the cost of new models. Apple’s standard one-year warranty is included with each model, and shipping is free: -... Read more

Jobs Board

*Apple* Architect - AECOM (United States)
**Requisition/Vacancy No.** 132759BR **Position Title** Apple Architect **Job Category** Information Technology **Business Line** Government **Country** United Read more
*Apple* Solutions Consultant - APPLE (United...
Job Summary As an Apple Solutions Consultant, you'll be the link between our future customers and our products. You'll showcase your entrepreneurial spirit as you Read more
*Apple* Project Engineer - Smart Source Inc...
SmartSource is in need of an Apple Project Engineer for a 12 month contract opportunity in Pittsburg, PA. Role: Apple Project Engineer Location: Pittsburg, PA Read more
Automotive Sales Consultant - Apple Ford Linc...
…you. The best candidates are smart, technologically savvy and are customer focused. Apple Ford Lincoln Apple Valley is different, because: $30,000 annual salary Read more
Service Assistant - *Apple* Chevrolet *App...
Apple Automotive is one of the fastest growing dealer...and it shows. Consider making the switch to the Apple Automotive Group today! At Apple Automotive, we Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.