Pragmatic language experimentation11 Apr 2011
I purchased the book Seven Languages in Seven Weeks as a Christmas present for myself in order to dabble in several languages and hopefully choose one or two of my favorites to pursue further. I’m three languages deep at the moment and so far the book has fulfilled this expectation.
It’s a good resource for quickly grokking a new language as it’s meant to be used as opposed to merely translating the ubiquitous C/Java/etc. approaches to solving problems. I especially like that the book is targeted towards experienced programmers who have already picked up multiple languages. Not much space is devoted to the tedious particulars of each language’s syntax, since these can be found readily via google or the main documentation. Instead the focus seems to be on the aspects of the language which are unique and the problem domains for which it is particular apt. For example, there is a section for prolog, which is an exceptional language for quickly finding solutions to constraint based problems. A huge chunk of this chapter walks through writing a program for solving sudoku puzzles, a problem well suited for prolog. This exercise isn’t used for any of the other languages, since, well, none of the other languages are quite as appropriate for the task.
You can definitely tell it’s a work by “The Pragmatic Programmers” as one of the goals throughout seems to be exposure to as many tools (i.e. languages) as possible so that you can pick the right one for your next project. Thus providing the programmer with a screwdriver to drive that screw instead of the more familiar sledgehammer.
I’ve put all my code up in a github repo (including the exercises) and I plan on sharing my thoughts on each of the languages in the days to come.