Wednesday, July 20, 2011

"feels dynamic" is a ridiculous expression

I should start out by saying that most of the actual information content in Scala: The Static Language that Feels Dynamic is great and worth your time. Scala deserves any attention it receives. And obviously any complaints I advance about what Eckel writes are gadflies to his cow.

Regardless, my reaction to "feels dynamic" is extreme annoyance. Dynamic typing has no feel. Dynamic typing is merely one of many aspects to a language. I might agree that languages have a "feel", although it still sounds risible in a serious technological discussion. Go ahead and mention "feel", but at least trot out numerous examples that partially convey your meaning. Fortunately, Eckel does go on to do this in the article, which as a communicator puts him above the typical Rubyist/Pythonista/whatever-stupid-name-they-enjoy.

I'd suggest an alternative expression "feels Pythonic". Still better, "is as succinct as Python syntax". Based on the text, that's almost exactly what Eckel intends. Distinguishing a "dynamic feel" from a "static feel" just sounds like someone has an astounding lack of programming language breadth. For instance, ML-family or Lisp-family languages, not to mention Prolog or Forth or J, probably have different "feels" than that simplistic two-state viewpoint. For frak's sake, a hypothetical Java "replacement" more or less identical to Java, but with a type-inferring compiler and a much more convenient standard library, would "feel dynamic" according to some language cheerleaders. Get thee out to read about not only Scala but Groovy++.

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