OT2: The 'realness' of languages
jsng at wayoflife.org
Thu Dec 25 19:35:08 CST 2008
>She began talking about how I might help with the design, but that
>of course when the design was finished a software firm would take
>over the development (presumably in some 'real' language like C). I
>didn't bother to tell her I COULD write in C, Java, PERL, PHP and so
>on, because it would be extraordinarily painful to do so.
>Has anyone else run into this issue? Do you dodge the 'what is it
>written in' question? How can we raise the profile of Revolution as
>a 'real' language? (Never mind what religion it might resemble!)
What I do is I make it clear that if they want me to do something,
then they are hiring me to produce something for them and the final
program is merely the deliverable.
I do point that I am proficient in over half a dozen languages and
operating systems but it is still my *time* that they end up paying
for and my choice of development language and operating system has to
do with my *productivity* which equates to time savings.
I then offer to quote to do it in some other language (or OS) if they
like and usually that amount is about 2X what we were previously
negotiating at. I also remind them at that point the maintenane costs
would be higher and that it would require lots of billable training
before I can hand the stuff over to one of their staff should they
want to take over the entire project at some point.
Usually they'll back off. That happened about 18 months ago because
some new IT 'expert' came into the company and wanted to move
everything to a Windows only environment and it meant that
fundamentally changing the way some things were done in that
particular system and was going to pose to be a real hassle
especially mid way into the whole project.
My rationale is simple, it takes me more time, the hassle factor is
higher and in certain situations, my maintenance costs (which will be
passed down to the client) is also much higher. So ultimately the
price tag becomes the deterrent.
In the Hypercard days, we were able to show by way of full scale
demos of actual working apps that our 'toy' language version worked
better than the 'real' language stuff that some other competitors
Only once did a client (in 1990) actually ask for it to be faster and
that was only after we had gone through lots of prototyping and had a
finished app and in those days, we didn't have too many more
optimizations left that we could do. At that point I fired up
Prototyper to generate the code for the UI and rewrote the whole
thing in Object Pascal in under 2 weeks and yes, it did work much
I've always found such questions odd and especially since they are
based more on perception than anything else. Afterall, there was a
time when PERL, PHP and Java were not considered 'real' languages
since the prevailing 'wisdom' at the time was that you can't do
'real' work in an interpreted or bytecode based language and that
real men only wrote in Assembly and that the really brave men coded
directly in "1s" and "0s" (reminds me of a Dilbert episode).
It is possible that question is used as a way to determine (very
superficially) who macho a developer you are based on the language
that you use. Its like the old days when management promoted a
programmer based on how many more lines of code he produced than the
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