If Languages Were Emoticons

Release that anger!

Following James Gosling’s comments about Ruby being "just a scripting language", the over-emotional response from Ruby advocates got me thinking about how different programming languages seem to represent different emotions.

The Ruby loyalists' responses had comments along the lines of "Ha ha, that's rich! Gosling got it so wrong, he just doesn’t understand us!" which reminded me rather uncomfortably of the similarly zealous Extreme Programming (XP) following from a few years back. Anyone who dared to question or (shudder) criticize the XP way received a similar tirade from irate fanboys.

When you see someone go on the defensive, it's often due to insecurity caused by arguing a weak case.

It’s just not healthy for the industry, and is a worrying aspect of Ruby’s current ascent above the radar line of developers around the world (or at least, those developers who read twenty blogs before breakfast and regularly speak at developer conferences).

So anyway, if Ruby were an emoticon – as in :) – then it would probably be shorthand for "I am bristling with leftover adolescent fury".

Similarly, Java would probably mean "I have a paying customer and I have to get the job done; maybe I’ll read your blog next year if there’s time". (Not quite sure if that’s an emotion as such, but it’s certainly a state of mind).

These days, C# probably means much the same thing; whereas VB.NET would probably mean "I hanker for a day long gone, that we shall never see the likes of again; that is unless Microsoft suddenly resurrects VB6."

About the Author

Matt Stephens is a senior architect, programmer and project leader based in Central London. He co-wrote Agile Development with ICONIX Process, Extreme Programming Refactored, and Use Case Driven Object Modeling with UML - Theory and Practice.