Tour De Babel

This is my whirlwind languages tour - the one I was going to write for the Amazon Developers Journal this month, but couldn't find a way to do it that was... presentable.

For one thing, I lapse occasionally into coarseness and profanity here, so it wasn't appropriate for an official-ish Amazon publication. Instead, I'm stuffing it into my blog, which nobody reads. Except for you. Yep, just you. Hiya.


My whirlwind tour will cover C, C++, Lisp, Java, Perl, (all languages we use at Amazon), Ruby (which I just plain like), and Python, which is in there because -- well, no sense getting ahead of ourselves, now.

Tour De Babel

There's a lot to agree and disagree with here. A quite entertaining look at various mainstream languages.

On C++:

We have 50 million lines of C++ code. No, it's more than that now. I don't know what it is anymore. It was 50 million last Christmas, nine months ago, and was expanding at 8 million lines a quarter. The expansion rate was increasing as well. Ouch.

Stuff takes forever to do around here. An Amazon engineer once described our code base as "a huge mountain of poop, the biggest mountain you've ever seen, and your job is to crawl into the very center of it, every time you need to fix something."

On Perl:

There are "better" languages than Perl - hell, there are lots of them, if you define "better" as "not being insane". Lisp, Smalltalk, Python, gosh, I could probably name 20 or 30 languages that are "better" than Perl, inasmuch as they don't look like that Sperm Whale that exploded in the streets of Taiwan over the summer. Whale guts everywhere, covering cars, motorcycles, pedestrians. That's Perl. It's charming, really.

But Perl has many, many things going for it that, until recently, no other language had, and they compensated for its exo-intestinal qualities. You can make all sorts of useful things out of exploded whale, including perfume. It's quite useful. And so is Perl.

Posted March 4, 2006 7:53 PM