Wednesday, March 03, 2004

.NET review

Does .Net Have a Dynamic-Languages Deficiency?

dynamic programming languages have been around
for decades. With LISP (LISt Processing) and Smalltalk as
progenitors, today’s popular examples include Perl, Python,
and Ruby.
Often labeled “open source scripting languages” and
regarded as useful mainly for data mining and automated sys-tem
administration, their well-kept secret is that these highly-productive
languages power more mission-critical services
than enterprises like to admit. In the Java world, a Java/Python
hybrid called Jython has built a cult following among devel-opers
who want to manipulate Java APIs with the ease and flex-ibility
of Python.

The .Net world lacks a Jython equivalent. ActiveState’s Perl
.Net and Zope Corporation’s Python for .Net bridge these
languages’ VMs (virtual machines) to the .Net CLR (Com-mon
Language Runtime). But they don’t achieve the deep
integration that comes from implementing a language
directly on the CLR, as Jython implements Python on the JVM.
Despite lots of second-guessing, there’s no consensus that the
CLR is inherently unfriendly to dynamic languages. The JVM does-n’t
bend over backwards for such languages either, and yet Jython
is a great success thanks to the heroic efforts of its inventor, Jim
Hugunin. Now Hugunin has turned his attention to .Net, and
reports promising results with a prototype Python implementa-tion
for .Net called IronPython.

Such projects always seem to spring from an inspired individual
or small team. In fact, Microsoft has such a team. It created JScript
.Net, the most dynamic of Microsoft’s .Net languages. But JScript
.Net is the unloved stepsister of C# and Virtual Basic .Net.
Dynamic languages are rooted in a culture that is simply not
indigenous to Redmond. That may change, but for the time being,
the future of dynamic languages in .Net lies with non-Microsoft
— J.U.

No comments: