Sunday 21 August 2011

Designing Haskell

The other day I was struggling through quirk of Java's generics (which are implemented with type erasure). I pondered that it would have been wonderful if generics had been properly baked into Java from the start instead of being superficially retrofitted.

While I'm strengthening Java's type system, I thought, I should wish for type inference to cut out all those redundant type annotations. And if I'm going to do that, I might as well ask for closures!

Of course, some of the worst things about Java are awkward and commonly misused features, like nullability. I occasionally use it myself, but I'd prefer it if there were an alternative. And I'd gladly give up mutability, primitive types and implementation inheritance if only every other Java programmer had to give them up too.

But, I considered, would I just be imposing my personal taste on others? I mean, I like significant whitespace, but I know some other programmers inexplicably prefer curly braces.

If only there were already a magical programming language like this that I could switch to without disturbing the Java developers who are happy with things the way they are.

Friday 19 August 2011

Eco on over-engineering

This triumph of the mechanism produced a kind of giddiness, whereby the importance attached to what the machine actually produced was less than that attached to the extravagance of the mechanical resources required to produce it, and frequently many of these machines displayed a wholly disproportionate relationship between the simplicity of the effect they produced and the highly sophisticated means required to obtain it.

- Umberto Eco, On Beauty: A History of a Western Idea