Avoid Global Warming – Use Statically Typed Languages

Even if you are a Python or Ruby person it is worth watching a Channel 9 video by Erik Meijer called Democratizing the Cloud. To make life interesting he throws out some provocative comments such as the golden language middle ground between the statically typed languages like Java/C# and the dynamic languages like Python/Ruby. Because dynamic languages leave type checking to run time they inevitably burn processor cycles, hence the phrase ‘Avoid global warming – use statically typed languages’.

Of course dynamic languages bring their own benefits in terms of rapid and flexible development so Erik attempts to convince us about the middle ground of VB.NET which offers some type safety, and therefore far superior development tool support with intellisense, but with the flexibility of late type binding. Indeed using the agile concept of refactoring you can start with dynamic types and later refine towards static typing without explicitly using reflection.

He also mentions the coming, or more accurately the return, of the universal runtime that is JavaScript. There is a growing trend of compiling other languages like Java into JavaScript so that it can run in a browser as typified by the Google Web Toolkit. Erik suggests almost the reverse – translation of the .NET IL (Intermediate Language) into JavaScript. All the .NET languages will then become universally executable in any modern browser. Cool!

With these types of programming technologies we start to see the IDE become the design tool and we leave the waterfall model and UML diagrams behind. Like the open source mantra the code becomes the design and executable in one.

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About Michael Rees
Academic in IT interested in Web 2.0 and social media

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