Saturday, May 12, 2007

The Mighty DLR sans Perl

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It wasn't until this morning that I had a chance to look at John Lam and Jim Hugunin present on the DLR at Mix. My response is a mixture of giddiness and shock - appropriate I hope for a programming language geek like me. Lam begins the presentation by writing a "simple" application with a mixture of C# (an onscreen button), with its click event handled in Ruby, obtaining parameters from Visual Basic and making a call to a Javascript function. Hugunin is not to be outdone: he follows up with an animation library he has written and his own mixture of onscreen manipulation with a mix of Python, Visual Basic, Javascript, and Ruby.

This is the part of Silverlight that I can grok as a developer of nary so flashy (pun intended) as much as practical pieces of software. The ability to put so many languages in concert, the development experience as text-based and interactive (edit text and refresh just like you do with HTML), and the cross platform support make my mind swim with potential uses. The fact that their demonstration was on a Mac was a brash in the best sense: it's a level of confidence that's not based on arrogance, but preference (Lam presented on a Macbook pro at Teched last year).

I was fortunate enough to meet John Lam at TechEd last year (I have this problem of "freezing up" when I meet people I respect as much as that - all my questions/ability to speak vanishes) and had I the foresight I'd have asked what his thoughts are on Perl. The dynamic languages Microsoft is supporting initially seem like smart choices and certain languages like Smalltalk may not be popular enough for them to justify an implementation. But Perl? I would have thought it would make the cut. I understand that it could be a syntactically difficult language but there are features in Javascript such as handling parameters on functions that seem to be on that order of magnitude in difficulty.

Although the Perl community is tremendous, it seems as fractured as 3rd century Rome. But that being said it's possible that either one of the monks or a clever company will start a project that makes it another language in the DLR family.

Or maybe I'll start a PerlCLR project and get hired by the b0rg. Not even in my dreams do I have skills like that ...

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2 comments:

Michael said...

Quite a few people have commented on the absence of an "IronPerl". As a Perl fan, this disappoints me too but it is hardly surprising given the fiasco that Perl 6 appears to have become! No one seems to know where the language is heading any more so that might have convinced Microsoft to ignore it! Think of all the classical VB programmers either left stranded by, or struggling with, the .NET incarnation of that old workhorse! The situation with Perl appears a lot worse, I'm reluctant to even buy a Perl book these days in case Perl 6 does finally arrive and renders it obsolete.

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