September 25, 2023

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Comical Coder Envisions the Worst Programming Language Ever – The New Stack

7 min read

Developer Mark Rendle argues that people who fail to understand from history “are unable to iterate on it and make it even worse.”

In a impressive converse at last year’s NDC convention in Norway, which has due to the fact absent viral in the dev neighborhood, this comedic coder introduced himself as a .Net developer who’s worked in software package for 30 a long time. “And around that time,” he mentioned, “I’ve labored with some truly horrific programming languages.”

But then he promised to share with his audience the pretty worst features from programming languages “that could possibly in other techniques be very really fantastic and properly acceptable.

“And we’re heading to mash them all jointly and make the worst programming language that there has ever been in the total of history.”

Early on, Rendle turned his focus to Python, which he calls “generally incredibly great and extremely realistic.” But then he exhibited two similar-searching blocks of code, one of which throws an mistake simply because its whitespace is made up of a blend of tabs and areas. (An annoyance it shares with F#, Haskell, and Occam.)

So Rendle’s language took points even further more: “We’re likely to use two spaces for indentation — but if you’re indenting by four areas, then you use a tab.

“If you’re indenting by 6 spaces, then you use a tab and two spaces … And so on and so on and so on…”

Rendle’s language also delivers its personal variation on line numbers: they’re only made use of sporadically, to mark the supposed destinations of GOTO statements.

But, in addition, “because I am a big admirer of Douglas Adams, line figures have to be a several of 42.” (A major quantity in Adams’ “The Hitchhiker’s Guideline to the Galaxy.”)

And the raises have to transpire in an unbroken sequence — so if you later insert a numbered line into your program, each subsequent numbered line’s value will have to be improved by 42 (with the corresponding variations also manufactured in every GOTO assertion referencing those line numbers).

“We’ll sell a refactoring software that will do that for you,” Rendle explained to his audience. “For $20,000.”

Further than the Pit of Achievements

Language designers often talk about platforms created to really encourage profitable coding practices, so even beginners continue to slide into “the pit of achievements.” But Rendle counters that this paradigm “doesn’t audio like any entertaining at all,” proposing as a substitute an substitute layout paradigm known as “the booby-trapped Aztec temple of fail.”

“You need to really feel like Harrison Ford jogging away from a huge boulder and then bumping into a bunch of people today pointing arrows at you with a Nazi archaeologist.”

Therefore, accomplishing straightforward items must be made “as challenging as we can” — when the a lot more challenging duties should be handed off to the programmer completely. From PHP, Rendle adopts not just its inconsistent letter cases but also its “pointless variable prefixing.” So rather of demanding greenback signs in front of variables, Rendle’s language will need every single variable be preceded by the Euro image. “That has the further gain that it’s really fairly challenging to style on most keyboards….”

“And for string concatenation, we’re heading to use commas alternatively than the moreover symbol.”

Rendle’s language also consists of a command which throws a one catch-all exception with no even more aspects. “We’ll leave it up to the programmer to assess the stack trace and main dump to get the job done out what it was that basically went completely wrong.

“That exception is going to be called HALT_AND_Capture_Fire… It is mainly like ‘panic!‘ — but substantially far more dramatic.”

For included effect, Rendle adopts Ruby’s idiosyncratic unless syntax — so a very simple command examining for undefined “null” variables gets a great deal much more thrilling.


(unless of course €name != null)

Rendle’s language will also call for all programming statements finish not with a semicolon, but with the problem mark image from ancient Greek. (Which seems to be similar, but will be treated by Rendle’s language as an fully individual character.)

“We’ll sell keyboards with a exclusive vital that has a Greek question mark on it,” Rendle informed his audience. “And we’ll place it correct upcoming to the semicolon key. And you’ll just have to bear in mind which a person of them is which.”

Uncomplicated as Pi

As the speak ongoing, Rendle’s language grew significantly tough.

  • A line setting up with whitespace is regarded as a remark — but only if the quantity of areas divided by two leaves a remainder of just one. As he informed the viewers, “So if you begin a line with a tab and a one house, or a tab and three areas, or just with seven spaces, then every little thing after that is a comment.”
  • The final result of dividing 22 by 7 is the emoji for pie.
  • Wherever Visible Standard defaults to 16-bit integers (with a independent syntax for 32-little bit and 64-little bit integers), Rendle’s language just boundaries programmers to … 17-bit integers.
  • His language is neither an interpreted script language nor a compiled language, but alternatively a semi-compiled language like Java that generates its individual intermediate byte code.
  • String-handling is even additional formidable. As an alternative of using a typical 8-bit character format, Rendle’s language will help 256-little bit people, a style and design conclusion that “allows us to have a character for each and every sub-atomic particle in the photo voltaic method.”

He extra, “I’m going to make a site where by you can upload any bloody photograph you like, and I’ll give you again the UTF-256 encoding for it, and then you can use it in a string,” he told his audience.

“And then all the systems in the globe will have to come to my webserver to download the character.”

Mistake Messages from Hell

The communicate involved a couple of significant thoughts. For example, Rendle’s language borrows very little from Rust, “because Rust is very near to currently being the great language.” (As Rendle sees it, even Rust’s error messages are “like a hug from the compiler.”)

“We’re not undertaking that,” he promised the audience.  Our error messages are heading to be hell!”

For declaring variables, Rendle’s language implements the most bothersome form of typing — neither static nor dynamic, but its possess sort of gradual typing (building use of the sort “hints” obtainable in Python). Exclusively, Rendle’s language contains a new type-defining search term syntax: isProbablyA.

And in addition, the language does not only kind-checking but also grammar-checking, building a compiler mistake if the search phrase appears in entrance of the style that begins with a vowel. (For these situations, Rendle’s language delivers an different search term, isProbablyAn.) When defining the kind of a multi-variable array, the syntactically-suitable key phrase adjustments but all over again, to areProbably.

And for included ambiguity, the compiler mistake is "Invalid continual.”

The spirit was infectious. The discuss finished with Rendle asking the audience for their individual peeves about programming languages, prompting one particular viewers member to respond, “I despise MATLAB, and it echoes out any line that doesn’t finish with a semicolon.”

Rendle hinted that he’ll incorporate it to a long term edition of the language — nevertheless probably adding a twist unique to his very own language. “Or a Greek concern mark,” he mused.

A different audience member has generally hated how a multibranching Swap statement necessitates each and every branch to conclusion with its possess separate Split statement — and suggests Rendle also make them obligatory for every single one particular of his language’s Except statements. And also the end of just about every operate.

“I like that,” Rendle states, incorporating, “You’re a twisted puppy dog.”

Producing Languages Even worse

As Rendle’s chat circulated online, it provoked conversations about what other terrible capabilities could’ve been provided.

Rendle claims supporters often even deliver their recommendations to him immediately. “It’s definitely gratifying to get that form of engagement with this sort of a silly communicate,” he posted just lately on Twitter.

But it is all intended just for enjoyable. Rendle very first gave the talk in 2014 — and informed his 2021 viewers he’d been horrified when two viewers members later in fact tried out to create GitHub repositories for the language.

His authentic goal is a mischievous parody of the equipment that programmers use each individual day, and the greater quirks in an ecosystem that would seem to supply perverse incentives and arbitrary benefits. At 1 place, Rendle even supplied his individual variation on the aphorism if it ain’t broke, never fix it.

“If it isn’t broke, you really should fix it until finally it breaks. And then operate absent.”

And then he proudly gave his dazed audience some tips: “Hire me.”

Rendle demonstrates what a authentic “Hello World” application appears to be like like if written in IBM COBOL

For much more about programming languages, examine out this modern New Stack podcast about Java and its upcoming in a cloud native globe.

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