Programming language fatigue

Joe Brinkman wrote an insightful article the other day, Ployglot Programming: Death By A Thousand DSLs. Here’s an excerpt:

I don’t know about other programmers, but I am drowning in DSLs [domain specific languages].  It is hard enough keeping up with my primary development language and the associated platform APIs, but these DSLs are going to be the death of me.  The end result is that I have a pretty decent handle on maybe 3 or 4 of these DSLs but rarely do I have the requisite knowledge to make the right choices in anything beyond that.

It takes a dozen programming languages to do any web project these days. Whenever I bring this up in conversation, most developers say “Oh, well. That’s just the way it is. It isn’t so bad.” But I think it really is a problem. Obviously it’s intimidating amount of material for new developers to learn. But the more subtle problem is that experienced developers who think they understand all the different languages they use are probably wrong.

Case in point: JavaScript. Nearly every web project involves some client-side JavaScript, and 99% of the people who write JavaScript do not know the language. I never claimed to be a JavaScript expert, but I thought I understood the language better than I really did until I saw some presentations by Douglas Crockford.

Crockford has written an excellent book: JavaScript: The Good Parts. His position is that there is an elegant, powerful language at the core of JavaScript but it is surrounded by landmines. His book focuses on the good parts, but along the way he tells you how to avoid or disarm the landmines.

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