RubyConf 2008: The Fall and Rise of Dynamic Languages

Posted in Conferences, Development on December 02, 2008


RubyConf 2008: The Fall and Rise of Dynamic Languages

A war is being waged between the Empire and the Rebel Alliance. The imperial forces are laboring tirelessly to stamp out such dangerous ideas as late-binding, and automatic memory management.

Based on long experience, such ideas are known to cause severe performance problems at best, and to bring down the Empire with errors at worst.

The year, 2008 Ruby vs. Java*, or ca 1990 Smalltalk vs. C++, or ...

The languages change, but the arguments remain. After a period in the shadows, dynamic languages have been on the rise again. Ruby has been at the forefront of this resurgence, with older dynamic languages tagging along. At the same time, hard-learned lessons from the implementation of these earlier languages are starting to have an influence on implementation of the newer ones. Witness the buzz in the Ruby community about "repurposeing" projects such as MagLev.

This talk will explore the history of the dynamic vs. static debate, and attempt to bring to light the reasons why many of the arguments against dynamic languages are based on things which just don't matter if the language isn't static.

I'll also have a few things to say about why things like MagLev make sense.

* Well at least Java has a better regard of GC.

About Rick DeNatale
I am a long-time object oriented technologies, practitioner, evangelist, and provocateur.

During a 32 year career at IBM, I served in various capacities, including the development of the initial proof of concept for IBM VisualAge/Smalltalk, a distributed implementation of the Smalltalk language, parts of VisualAge Micro Edition for Java (the precursor to Eclipse), founding member of the X3J20 Smalltalk committee, and many other activities related to Smalltalk and Java, and in the early decades of OOPSLA.

This gave me the opportunity to know, work, and interact with many of those, some known, and others not so well known, who laid the groundwork for what we do with Ruby and how we do it.

I've been a Ruby programmer and consultang since shortly after 'retiring' in 2006. Currently I am working at Near-Time, a software-as-a-service business based on Rails.

My sporadic thoughts, mostly about the Ruby language and related topics can be found at my blog.

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Tags: Conferences, Ruby, Java, MagLev, Languages, Confreaks, RubyConf 2008