Mozilla Releases JavaScript Engine Aimed at Research

As The Register explains, this JavaScript engine isn’t aimed at use but rather to make the process of researching the future of the language more inclusive. From Mozilla Labs Tom Austin:

“In programming language (PL) research, we like to write up fancy evaluation rules containing lots of Greek letters. Unfortunately, these rules tend to be inscrutable to anyone who isn’t a PL researcher. Even for PL researchers, there is something unsatisfying about seeing a bunch of rules on a piece of paper.”

Practical concerns rank on his list along side syntax and semantics. JavaScript, especially as implemented in browsers, is the target of a lot of programmers’ ire. Perhaps this effort will lead to more of those who complain the loudest contributing ideas and code. I believe self interest is a powerful motivator so it’s more than likely going to be a benefit of the Narcissus engine and its companion script look-up tool, Zaphod.

Mozilla Labs pops out JavaScript language tool for coders, The Register

Emerging Languages Camp

The more programming languages I learn, the more enjoyable I find learning and reading about them. In that vein, Mac Slocum at O’Reilly Radar provides me another reason for regretting being unable to afford to fly out to OSCON. He has an extremely effective tease for an event there, Emerging Languages Camp. The post is a micro-interview with Alex Payne who is organizing the camp.

Alex Payne: The headliner that everyone’s been talking about is concurrency. We have a handful of languages on the Camp roster that exist largely to address concurrency problems. Solutions could involve allowing people to spread computations over multiple physical machines in a pretty transparent way, or by providing different single-machine or single-virtual-machine concurrency paradigms. It’s an interesting problem. There’s a lot of conflicting takes on how relevant it is.

Payne also gives the nod to the perennial favorite driver for new language development, ease of maintenance, primarily through making code more readable. I love how Mac framed that first question, too, evoking language invention as a form of higher order hacking on problem spaces.

Payne teases some of the languages that will be discussed. Even if not all of them are immediately practical, the experience of learning about them and the inevitable comparison and contrast will no doubt be very insightful for a good variety of every day aspects of programming.