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Urgh, too danged many languages

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johnhattan

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I remember back in the heady college days of the 1980's, "mixed language programming" was the touchstone for quality programming. I also remember that it took about a page of code to get a Fortran program to call a function written in IBM 370 Assembly (mainly because the 370 architecture had zillions of registers but no stack). Even during my early professional days at Tandy, calling code in a "resource" (which was DeskMate-ese for a TSR, later known as a DLL) required something called a "funnel binding", which basically meant you stored your parameters somewhere in memory, then passed the location of those parameters in a register so the resource could find 'em.

It was a mess. Writing a system in more than one language was done strictly out of necessity, and even then it was only done with much kicking and screaming.

But looking at this system I'm coding to now, I'm programming in a freakin' half-dozen languages. They all communicate nicely, but I'm dying for some consolidation.

Lessee.

As for the embedded browser-versions, I'm using code written in ActionScript 2, which communicates with some server-side code written in PHP 4, which contains embedded code written in SQL to save out your results to a mySQL database. The pages themselves use extensive javascript to ensure that you're all up-to-date version-wise.

The standalone games are also written in ActonScript 2, they also contain embedded SQL, which talks to SQLite via a DLL written in C.

So that's ActionScript 2, PHP 4, SQL, javascript, and C all working together to get the whole "user experience" to you. Of course, javascript and ActionScript are so similar that there's almost no difference (both being based on ECMAScript). This is offset by the fact that PHP and ECMAScript are somewhat similar but are just different enough to make the whole thing danged confusing.

Weird thing, though, is that I can't think of a more streamlined way of doing things than this byzantine maze of languages all talking to each other. About the only viable "streamline" would've been to go with a Microsoft ASP server, as that would've allowed me to replace PHP with JScript (also based on ECMAScript). But that would've cost more than the cheap LAMP setup I'm using now.

And heck, it's all working so I ain't complaining. I'm just imagining what the 1980's college-me would've said about the 2006 me writing a system in five computer languages, getting it all working, and not having to pass a single goldurned thing in a register.

The 1980's college-me would've probably been amused that no C++ was involved, despite that being the big up-n-coming language of 1989.

As for my favorite, I'd have to go with ActionScript 2. While it does have some evolutionary weirdness brought about by having to remain backward compatible, it's about the best balance between power and ease-of-use and strong and weak-typing. E4X is even better, but it's not available yet unless I wanna switch to Flex.
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Funny! The variety of languages and rethinking how who do things/solve problems is one of the reasons why I like web programming. As opposed to most commercial application programming where it's assumed that you are going to use C++ or a cleaned up C++ such as Java or C#.

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