Seven Languages in Seven Weeks

Monday, November 29, 2010

Book Cover: Seven Languages in Seven Weeks: A Pragmatic Guide to Learning Programming Languages by Bruce A. TateLately I have a feeling that Java ecosystem is getting a bit stale. To add to that grass seemed greener on the other side of the fence. Several of my friends that I started my coding career with in J2EE trenches have deserted and moved on to Ruby. None of them ever mentioned regretting the move.

Then new languages that run on JVM started gaining traction and I had a little play with Groovy couple of years ago. I liked the language very much and I grokked why my friends were so happy with Ruby path they’ve chosen. Sheer expressiveness and productivity provided were impressive. I tried to push for Groovy to be used at work but it never got beyond utilities and scripts. I once read that someone said that the problem Groovy has, is that it is not called Business Logic Expression Language. It seems that sentiment rings quite true.

Anyway as I mentioned earlier Java no longer feels quite like a nice new comfy shirt. I am feeling that it’s constraining me and due to my brushes with alternative, there is always that little question in the back of my head: “Am I using the proverbial golden hammer?”

Recently I started looking over the fence again and I am seeing that there seems to be more choice than ever. One of the languages that sparked my interest was Scala. I checked out some of the websites devoted to it and found that community seems quite vibrant and that the language itself is very interesting indeed. Also the fact that it allows and encourages functional programming sparked my interest even further. I am quite familiar with object orientation and have merely brushed with functional programming at uni. The prospect of getting my head around something new and the promises that functional programming paradigm brings (especially regarding concurrency) got me quite excited.

As I almost decided to devote more time to Scala I have attended Agile Testing & BDD eXchange. In one of the presentations Erik Stenman talked about Erlang amongst other things and caught my attention.

Now I knew I have a problem. Too many languages and too little time. I realised that before I commit to a single language I want to have a bit of a nose around the programming languages landscape. So I thought, wouldn’t it be great if there was a book that would give you a crash course in several languages. Nothing too deep – only enough to present you the language’s philosophy and give you a feel of the language. Preferably these languages should cover different paradigms so that I could evaluate them as well and try to understand their strengths and weaknesses as well.

Well guess what a bit less than a month ago The Pragmatic Bookshelf have published Seven Languages in Seven Weeks: A Pragmatic Guide to Learning Programming Languages by Bruce A. Tate. From a bit of scan reading it seems that book is almost a perfect fit to my requirements. It promises to take you on a journey through seven languages in seven days (I’ll see if I can keep up) and languages are chosen to give you a flavour of object orientated programming, function programming, prototype based OO, logic programming and hybrids.

I will try to keep up with the program and tackle a new language each week. For those interested in my progress and findings I intend to blog about them as I go along. Wish me luck on my journey of discovery.


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