Programming languges panel at CodeMash

This was an interesting panel cover a range of programming topics. It was a relaxed, informal way to get into the conference. These notes are very sketchy and miss quite a bit of the discussion…

No one really seemed to be a fan of Java. Ted Neward wasn’t able to make it, and I’m sure that he would have been a better defender. The panel was definitely into the dynamic languages.

The panel included people representing PHP (someone from MySQL, though I forget his name, sorry!), Neal Ford (who likes Ruby best, but also does Java and C#), David Stanek (representing Python), Bill Wagner (representing C#, C++) and James Ward (Adobe Flex evangelist, standing in for Java). Bruce Eckel moderated and also generally spoke out in favor of Python.

The language warts discussion was interesting: everyone was in agreement that Java Generics are horrible. People generally seemed to not be hung up on Python’s whitespace (in fact, a number of folks spoke out in favor of it).

There was a bit of talk about Web Services. The general consensus was what you’d expect (if you’ve worked on web services at all): avoid them if you can. If you *need* to distribute your services, SOAP is a very complex, verbose protocol. James favored binary protocols (AMF, anyone?), with JSON, POX (the acronym that Neal Ford used for plain old HTTP+XML) and SOAP as a last resort. I’m with James on that one.

The question came up about good first languages. Python and Ruby were floated as good choices. Others include Smalltalk, because of the purity of its OO model. SQL, because of its prevalence today. Lisp/Scheme, because of the way everything is built from fundamental blocks. Lastly, Assembly language was brought up because it teaches you how the machine is actually working.

This is just the first night of the conference, and it’s already off to an interesting start. We’re heading into open space discussions now. The formal talks begin in the morning.

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