Monday, April 19, 2010

Old but Not Dead Languages

How can it possibly be that in this survey of programming language popularity, the C programming language is back at number 1 position?

I love technology history more than the average person, but I am dumb-founded that with all the software engineering development, object-oriented design, and graphical user interface work that's happened over the decades, we are relying on a language designed before many practicing engineers were born! (People may complain about Verilog HDL's crustiness, but it's "only" 25 years old.)

Though software engineering is not my principal occupation, I do enjoy programming and languages. I know "C" well enough to quickly shoot myself in the foot, but think Java is a far more elegant language. It's sort of like I've heard that Python is a better scripting language, but everyone still uses Perl.

Anyone have explanations for why "C" remains so popular? Isn't this a significant reason why computers have so many security holes? When you hear about "buffer overrun" and "malicious code execution", think "C" pointers! I can see using "C" for embedded systems if resources are very limited, but otherwise, I'm truly surprised by this survey.

2 comments:

woz2 said...
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woz2 said...

The old joke in Bell Labs was "C has all the power of assembly, but with the ease of use of assembly." Maybe C is popular because you can read K&R's book in an afternoon? Or because its grammar fits on six pages? Or because "C is a general-purpose programming language which features economy of expression, modern control flow and data structures, and a rich set of operators."