OT: on IDEs and code writing on steroids

Georg Wrede georg.wrede at iki.fi
Fri May 15 18:18:49 PDT 2009

bearophile wrote:
> BCS:
>> The c# solution works well if you will *only* develop from the IDE but is 
>> a total pain as soon as you need to work with non-language aware tools.
> I think Microsoft thinks that an IDE is a part of a modern language.
> So they have tried to design a language that almost needs an IDE.
> Fortress language looks to need an IDE even more. There are languages
> (most Smalltalk, and some Forth and some Logo) that are merged with
> their development environment.

Hmm. Come to think of it, that's not totally unreasonable. One might 
even admit, it's modern.

In the Good Old Days (when it was usual for an average programmer to 
write parts of the code in ASM (that was the time before the late 
eighties -- be it Basic, Pascal, or even C, some parts had to be done in 
ASM to help a bearable user experience when the mainframes had less 
power than today's MP3 players), the ASM programing was very different 
on, say, Zilog, MOS, or Motorola processors. The rumor was that the 6502 
was made for hand coded ASM, whereas the 8088 was more geared towards 
automatic code generation (as in C commpilers, etc.). My experiences of 
both certainly seemed to support this.

Precisely the same thinking can be applied to programming languages and 
whether one should use them with an IDE or "independent tools".

(At the risk of flame wars, opinion storms, etc.) I'd venture to say, 
that the D programming language is created for the Hand Coder. (Meaning 
somebody with an independent text editor (Notepad, vi, Emacs, or 
whatever), and a command line compile invocation.

The opposite might be C# (if I understand the rumors here correctly, I'm 
not familiar with the language itself), or Java, as an even better example.

Java, as a language, is astonishingly trivial to learn. IMHO, it should 
take at most half the time that D1 does. The book "The Java Programming 
Language" (by Arnold and Gosling, 3p 1996), is a mere 300 pages, printed 
in a huge font, with plenty of space before and after subheadings, on 
thick paper (as opposed to the 4 other books published at the same time, 
that Sun presumed (quite right) folks would order together, so it 
wouldn't look inferior in the book shelf.

But, to use Java at any productive rate, you simply have to have an IDE 
that helps with class and method completion, class tree inspection, and 
preferably two-way UML-tools.

So, in a way, Microsoft may be right in assuming that (especially when 
their thinking anyway is that everybody sits at a computer that's 
totally dedicated to the user's current activity anyhow) preposterous 
horse power is (or, should be) available at the code editor.

It's not unthinkable that this actually is The Way of The Future.


If we were smart with D, we'd find out a way of leapfrogging this 
thinking. We have a language that's more powerful than any of C#, Java 
or C++, more practical than Haskell, Scheme, Ruby, &co, and more 
maintainable than C or Perl, but which *still* is Human Writable. All we 
need is some outside-of-the-box thinking, and we might reap some 
overwhelming advantages when we combine *this* language with the IDEs 
and the horsepower that the modern drone takes for granted.

Easier parsing, CTFE, actually usable templates, practical mixins, pure 
functions, safe code, you name it! We have all the bits and pieces to 
really make writing + IDE assisted program authoring, a superior reality.

"Ain't nobody gonna catch us never!"

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