Dynamic Keys

Keeping Your Language’s Community Together

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If you look at programming languages like Ruby, Python, and Java, you see a well established, corporate backed community. Ruby, for example, was created by Yukihiro Matsumoto, a Japanese Computer Scientist. Python was created by Guido van Rossum in the Netherlands, and Java began development with James Gosling, Mike Sheridan, and Patrick Naughton, and was established and given to the public by Sun Microsystems (which was bought out by Oracle).

After creation and their first public release and beyond, the languages, as well as their communities, continued to grow.

Now, look at a language like Lisp. It was first made a “real programming language” by Steve Russell. The difference between a guy like Matsumoto and a guy like Russell, is that Matsumoto had total control over the language. Russell, on the other hand, allowed the language to fragment. This is the reason Lisp is more of a family of languages, while Ruby, Python, and Java are individualized languages.

Now, if your a language designer, the first question to ask yourself after developing the language is “Do I want full control over what happens with this?”. If the answer is no, then your probably going to end up like Lisp. If the answer is yes, then your on the right track. See, to make sure you keep your language together, you have to take control. Basically, you have to be a vicious king.

You may be thinking, “But Python doesn’t have a King!”. Yes, you right. But Python has corporate backing. The language is heavily endorsed by Google, as one of the few languages that are allowed on their App Engine, as well as a language that is widely used throughout it’s services. Java’s current King is, of course, Oracle, but it also get’s backing from Google (main Android development language). Ruby’s creator also has a strong hold on the language’s path.

This post has kind of been all over the place, so let me just conclude. A language’s community is kept together with:

  • A viciously strong king

or

  • Corporate backing

If you have one of those two, then you are all good.

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Written by Dynamic

July 11, 2012 at 9:05 pm

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