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Saturday, March 19, 2005

Dynamic Languages on the CLR

Jason Zander has a post that mentions dynamic languages on the Microsoft CLR. But don't get your hopes up yet.

Dynamic Languages

We had several questions about our philosphy on dynamic languages. I think I'll actually write a separate blog post on this one because it is such an interesting subject. A few quick notes for now:

I believe we already have a great platform for dynamic languages. You get the GC, exceptions, interop, and access to a huge set of libraries for free when you target the CLR.

That's nice marketing but not much information. Let's hope for the real post, and see what else he says here...
In Whibey we add Lightweight Code Gen (LCG) which further eases the ability to author the languages.
Alright. There's something. I wonder how the code generated supports dynamic languages.
Because we also built generics deeply into the runtime, you can leverage that support dynamically at runtime without having to "fake it out". This is a distinct advantage over techniques that use "erasure" to replace syntax with expanded code.
How is this an advantage for dynamic languages? "Because all our other programmer have to deal with rigid, unnecessary language constructs, we've preserved them at runtime so you can figure out how deal with them too!"

Thanks for that. What else have you done to make the CLR "compelling" on the Windows platform? Continuing...

Because you target our MSIL and type system, we also enable easy access to tons of tools that work across langauges seemlessly.
As opposed to the tons of cool tools that have been working in Lisp and Smalltalk for literally decades that do *not* require a "type system". Great fun... "Use dynamic languages in our world and as a bonus you get to understand our rigid type system."

By now I am feeling really frustrated and pessimistic. I am learning nothing about support for dynamic languages and only about how those languages will have to work with all the other rigid conventions of poorer languages. No news is good news compared to this.

I expect in the future to do a Project 7 style approach to adding more improvements to the engine, just like we did in the late 90's to form the current engine.
Any ideas what kind of improvements there will be for dynamic languages, your topic of conversation?
And finally a quick plug for Jim Hugunin who is doing a keynote at Pycon next week.
Finally there may be some information. Hugunin apparently has not posted since October. He's not participated in the IronPython email list. And recently someone *outside* Microsoft created a sourceforge site for IronPython fixes.

Maybe Sun can do better.


Considered Opinion said...

There is some promising work to demonstrate dynamic languages on .NET.

See .Net Languages

Anonymous said...

Did the Microsoft droidism caputure Jim Hugunin?

Damian Cugley said...

Mostly the web sites for dynamic languages seem to be fairly moribund. Python, for example, has Mark Hammond's work (funded by Microsoft, stopped in 2002), IronPython (of which nothing has been heard in months), and various CPython-to-CLR interop efforts.

I think the issue is that Python programmers don't feel a strong need to work on a dot-Net version of Python because they already have Python. and dot-Net programmers don't feel a strong need for a dot-Net version of Python because they already have C#.

Anonymous said...

it needs to be said: why bother with MS's CLR when there's already a serviceable python installation available for windows, that doesn't play the Jaws theme in the background when you use it?

J. Merrill said...

Damian Cugley wrote:

[quote]dot-Net programmers don't feel a strong need for a dot-Net version of Python because they already have C#. [/quote]

Also many Python programmers who have bought into the "strong typing" theme of .Net have turned to Boo:


Jason Zander said...

The detailed write up was posted on 3/24 here: http://blogs.msdn.com/jasonz/archive/2005/03/24/401589.aspx

Comments always welcome...

marko said...

thanks a lot!


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I'm usually writing from my favorite location on the planet, the pacific northwest of the u.s. I write for myself only and unless otherwise specified my posts here should not be taken as representing an official position of my employer. Contact me at my gee mail account, username patrickdlogan.