Philip Greenspun says:

A project done in Java will cost 5 times as much, take twice as long, and be harder to maintain than a project done in a scripting language such as PHP or Perl.

Jon Udell (in Infoworld) says:

In software development as in science, breakthroughs often occur when insights flow across disciplinary boundaries. The conductors of these flows are typically generalists who belong to several (or many) communities and who form bridges among them.

There were a few others, but I've managed to lose them. Doh!

Posted by jzawodn at September 21, 2003 10:22 AM

Reader Comments
# Travis said:

Yeah, I saw that entry by Phil. No doubt he's quite a character and entertaining writer, and it was his online info about databases that inspired me to setup some PostgreSQL-backed operations at work some years back that continue to be enhanced and perform just splendidly for me. (And for which a lot of the db access is JDBC. :-) Unfortunately, I do not find his opinions on programming languages any more or less insightful or useful than many people's.

on September 21, 2003 11:31 AM
# Kalyan said:

The things that people should never compare ( or should stop comparing) are

- Linux distros
- Programming Languages
- Browsers/Email Clients
- Text editors

Its all about personal preference :)

on September 21, 2003 11:36 AM
# Bill said:

I disagree. People shouldn't stop comparing & contrasting programming languages -- that's an exceptionally valuable exercise but, rather, people should stop cargo culting the comparisons.

Each programming language has both its strengths & weaknesses. You can look at each languages strengths and weaknesses based upon the language itself, the libraries available, and the environments it runs on. Instead of starting out by saying Im going to write a Perl program to, you should start of by saying Im going to write an application that needs to do X, Y, & Z and use the language who strengths best line up with what you want.

E.g. if you were building an application that does a tremendous amount of string manipulation, Perl is a terrific match. If you need to deploy a tool with a GUI interface on Linux, Macs, and Windows, Javas Swing is a good route to go. On the other hand, if you determine building your application in an object oriented fashion would be best, you probably want to stay away from PHP & its lack of class members.

I think its also the hallmark of a good engineer who can sanely tell you the pros & cons of each language. To them theyre just tools in their toolbox & they are no more partial to one than, say, a carpenter would be to a hammer or a screwdriver. If you do run into some who says things like EVERYTHING MUST BE IN PERL or PERL LOOKS LIKE MODEM NOISE you most likely are dealing with a know it all who either knows only Perl or doesn't know it at all.

Finding that out early is helpful, as it makes it clear to avoid them. ;-)

on September 21, 2003 12:56 PM
# saberworks said:

PHP lack of class members? What?

on September 21, 2003 01:37 PM
# dws said:

I'm now on a J2EE project after having done a Perl project, and I have a Python project going on the side. From this perspective, I agree with Phil. J2EE, even if you're not using Enterprise Beans, has a very heavy ritual overhead. The ratio of progress to typing is frustratingly low compared to other alternatives. And the result isn't really any more maintainable just because you're using Java. To be a generalist in the J2EE space, you need have have read about a shelf-foot of material, and be familiar with another shelf-foot or two to know what to reach for when you have a problem. That raises a huge obstacle to successful maintenance.

on September 21, 2003 01:38 PM
# dws said:

I'm now on a J2EE project after having done a Perl project, and I have a Python project going on the side. From this perspective, I agree with Phil. J2EE, even if you're not using Enterprise Beans, has a very heavy ritual overhead. The ratio of progress to typing is frustratingly low compared to other alternatives. And the result isn't really any more maintainable just because you're using Java. To be a generalist in the J2EE space, you need have have read about a shelf-foot of material, and be familiar with another shelf-foot or two to know what to reach for when you have a problem. That raises a huge obstacle to successful maintenance.

on September 21, 2003 01:40 PM
# perl said:

Perl easier to maintain than Java?

on September 21, 2003 11:08 PM
# Samuel said:

Paul Graham in Beating the Averages :
The first thing I would do, after checking to see if they had a live online demo, was look at their job listings. After a couple years of this I could tell which companies to worry about and which not to. The more of an IT flavor the job descriptions had, the less dangerous the company was. The safest kind were the ones that wanted Oracle experience. You never had to worry about those. You were also safe if they said they wanted C++ or Java developers. If they wanted Perl or Python programmers, that would be a bit frightening-- that's starting to sound like a company where the technical side, at least, is run by real hackers.

on September 22, 2003 02:35 AM
# kasia said:

Wouldn't it all depend on who is doing the coding and what is the purpose, function, platform.. etc.. etc. .etc..

I hate useless generalizations.. it sounds like it says something but in reality it just states "I don't really know what I'm talking about".

on September 22, 2003 06:43 AM
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed here are mine and mine alone. My current, past, or previous employers are not responsible for what I write here, the comments left by others, or the photos I may share. If you have questions, please contact me. Also, I am not a journalist or reporter. Don't "pitch" me.

 

Privacy: I do not share or publish the email addresses or IP addresses of anyone posting a comment here without consent. However, I do reserve the right to remove comments that are spammy, off-topic, or otherwise unsuitable based on my comment policy. In a few cases, I may leave spammy comments but remove any URLs they contain.