26 March 2009

Scheme in the browser (again)

I found myself reading “Popularity” over at Brendan’s Roadmap Updates...again.

This time, a comment by Mike Ivanov stood out to me:

It took almost a decade for ‘average developer’ to grok JavaScript. Now it is understood, at least. How much time would pass before Scheme achieved the same level of acceptance? I bet forever.

Which again has me questioning that. I can’t believe that anyone who has really “grokked” Javascript couldn’t have grokked Scheme. After all, Javascript essentially is Scheme with C syntax. Grokking the language behind that syntax is much more difficult than grokking the syntax.

I think that Javascript was in a unique position. I suspect almost no-one learned Javascript for its own sake. People learned Javascript because it was (essentially) the only game in town for the role it played. (Indeed, it is still too difficult, IMHO, to use Javascript outside that role.)

That’s certainly why I learned it. At the time, I would’ve much rather used Perl, but my customers had Javascript built into their browsers. I wasn’t going to ask them to install client-side Perl.

Likewise, I suspect that Javascript is one of those languages that was the first programming language for a lot of people. Those are people who aren’t coming in with syntax-bias.

Which may be pointless speculation, but that’s what thinking-out-loud is for. I still give thanks to Brendan that I’m required to regularly, at work, program in Scheme/Self even if it is with C syntax.

No comments: