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isn't quite ashamed enough to present

jr conlin's ink stained banana

:: Beat To Death With a Rosetta Stone

i know a lot of languages.

No, not the sorts of languages that could actually get me a salad without being beaten black and blue by some normally nice lady in Lisbon, i’m talking about the aberrations known as “computer programming languages”. While in theory these are all based off of some form of English, as anyone who’s ever written a single line of code can tell you, they’re more likely to resemble the ramblings of someone with a severe head trauma than they are to anything else.

A fair portion of modern languages are based off of a venerable beast called ALGOL. This is a little like saying that Spanish, French, and portions of English are based off of Latin, though. In English, the Latin bits generally involve bathtubs and sticking things with pointy sticks. English ’tis a silly language, and i’m rambling. ALGOL, like Latin, has since pretty much vanished from the face of the earth having inflicted enough damage and therapy bills to last generations.

ALGOL based languages have a few things in common, but basically you learn one, you learn ’em all. Well, except for the actual commands. Oh, and some key syntax. Oh yeah, and the framework. Ok, the actual letters, numbers and symbols? They’re the same.

Thing is, each language brings it’s own set of “weird” along for the ride. Lately, i’ve been dealing with a lot of what are considered “scripting” languages. These are the languages created because folks looked at stuff that came before it, realized they sucked and became dead set on fixing them. (Note: By “fixing” it usually meant making new things that sucked more, but that’s beside the point.)

The languages i’m currently dealing with most are Perl, PHP and now Javascript.

A colleague of mine writes in C++ (which in the ancestral tree of programming languages, occupies the sturdy branch where you tie off one of the ropes for the swing. C is the elder, sturdier branch of which C++ spawns from which hangs directly in the path of the swinger, meaning that one has to make sure one moves their head over to the right on the back swing). He considers Perl to be “unclean but necessary” in the same way that one considers sewage treatment plants an occasional requirement. He has no love of PHP since he feels it’s too “hacky”.

i fear his reaction should he ever see Javascript.

Now, let me be clear, seeing how i deal with all these languages.

Perl, for better or worse lets you do whatever you want, however you want. While it’s possible to write clear, concise programs in Perl, it’s equally loaded with obscure, arcane terms which Perl programmers seem unduly attracted to. That’s fine, except for the few times someone read a few lines of Perl code out loud and accidentally summoned an Elder God. i understand that there’s an entire branch of CPAN dedicated to the Egyptian god of Chaos, Set.

PHP, is a tad different. While slightly more structured in syntax than Perl is, the language was “organically grown”. No, it doesn’t mean that Rasmus was fed only on pure water and sunshine while he fermented the language, it means that stuff sorta popped up everywhere and some of the earliest things that went into making it happen were shi– uhm… less well thought out. While the language is admirable in what it can do and performs exceptionally well, the general programmer is constantly trying to remember if it’s pregreplace() or preg_replace() and where the hell the haystack is.

Finally, there’s Javascript. i’ll note that in spite of the name Javascript, it has nothing to do with Java. It is, however, a very strong Object Oriented language that has grown significantly in recent years. The language itself is very simple, with only a few easy rules to remember and a very minimal set of core commands and syntax. Learn them, and you’re pretty much good to go.

Well, unless you actually want to USE Javascript for anything.

You see, while Javascript, the language is nice and easy, it requires tying into a beast called the Document Object Model. That model is provided by the browser vendor, who hates you. Trying to get the browser to do anything is akin to trying to get an elephant to swan dive. Using only verbal commands. Consisting of vowels. That change depending on which direction you’re looking at the elephant from.

When you hear of web developers saying awful, hurtful things toward the sick, twisted individuals responsible for making their lives hell, you have to understand a few things:

  1. Yes, actually, it is easier to write this stuff in Perl, PHP, Python, C/C++, Pascal, Fortran, 8088 Assembler running on a TI-80 with bad memory, because those things are fairly consistent. Think of it like having to convert your beautiful C++ program to Logo because your customer want’s to run things on a VIC-20 every second Tuesday, oh yeah, and you customer also steals a random digital device to run things on every Wednesday, so be sure things can run on that too.)
  2. DOM designers are sociopaths, personally, morally convinced that they are the sole genius that will save the planet. That or they just never talk to each other. Either way, they’re taking it out on the web developer guy.
  3. It took 10 minutes to make it work on the first browser, it took the other three days to make it work on the other browser. Getting it to work on anything else may require a soul. They already gave. So, any plans on how you’d like to spend the afterlife?
  4. You are not superior because you know C++ and Java. You just took the easy way out. Coward.

Seriously, anyone who doesn’t think of the guys writing Javascript and AJAX as programmers need to be escorted from the building and beaten with a shovel. That, or forced to actually write some cross browser Javascript.

Either way, they’ll wind up a bloody babbling mess, and that will be a drastic improvement.

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