The future of programming languages
Their new features must facilitate development for the Web and robotics.
In recent years we have seen popularized certain features in programming tools, including concurrency and asynchronous mode. Functions that accompany the transition from local application to the universal application, online or locally.
But it is far from sufficient for the final achievement in the evolution of programming. We need new features in languages, but which ones?
Tolerance in the code
No current language is really suited to robotics because of their formal nature. Any missing comma and the program fails. This may be appropriate for current applications, although it may be in doubt when you know that Ariane rocket exploded in flight due to a simple division by zero, but this is totally unacceptable for robotics.
On the contrary HTML is tolerant: a tag which is not closed and the rendering engine infers the missing part. If a tag is not recognized, it is simply ignored. This greatly facilitates the task of Web developers and this helped to popularize HTML.
Languages and compilers of the future should be tolerant, and it is indispensable for robotics to allow some learning. The interpreter must be able to make inferences and provide himself the code needed to complete a task.
The service as a module
In a new environment where you can not define what is local and what is remote, because local applications using remote services and online applications can run locally, we should redesign modules and libraries and give them the form of a service.
A service is less strict in communicating with an application than a library. It can be used directly with applications written in different languages. The principle of tolerance also extends to services. The service responds to what is included and ignores what it does not understand or try to supplement it according to what he has.
Language for tools
Language Dart, a ultra-classic language designed to enable veterans to program web applications without having to change their habits acquired in the office during the previous decades pretend to come up with tools to facilitate programming. The language itself facilitates the creation of these development tools.
Classical languages can already produce a debug version that contains meta-information to monitor the progress of a program and locate errors. We must go further.
We must not only make tools for languages but also languages for tools.
The most useful is in fact synchronization between on the one hand the view of the program in progress and on the other hand the view of the source code. It is not just putting breakpoints and watch the contents of variables at each stop, but instead let the program executed in slow motion while you can view the source code in another window.
This assumes that the interpreter displays each source instruction before executing but also that we can interact with it, "fold" part of the program that we want to ignore or "extend" part that we want to see. The interpreter responds to events from an interface and adapts its behavior, this ability will grow with suggestions on the code, which means that the interpreter can infer the objectives of each part of the program. It should also propose alternatives to the code. The development tool should be interactive and intelligent and this implies that the language incorporates notions of its objectives.
Author: Denis Sureau, creator of the Scriptol language.
March 30, 2013.
Note: I'm talking about interpreters and no compilers, but with JIT and AOT as Asm.js, the difference tends to disappear.