Apps

Poll: Do you use non-mainstream languages for production code?

In the development world, business applications are done in a mainstream system, such as Java, .NET, or PHP. Take this poll to let us know if you use non-mainstream languages in your production work.

An old IT adage is, "No one ever got fired for buying IBM." In modern terms, this means that most companies have an aversion to using systems that are new, innovative, or revolutionary, simply out of fear of the unknown. Many excellent ideas never got off the ground because of this fear.

In the development world, this means that most business applications are done in a "mainstream" system, such as Java, .NET, or PHP. I am curious to know how many TechRepublic members use non-mainstream languages in production work. Let me know by taking this poll. (I'll let you decide if the language is non-mainstream.)

J.Ja

About

Justin James is the Lead Architect for Conigent.

50 comments
markc
markc

I do virtually 100% of my coding in POSIX shell script and have been for over 5 years.

pankaja_shankar
pankaja_shankar

Although I have heard various interpretations of the non-mainstream languages, personally I haven't used, so I feel I cannot comment on them intelligently.

don.g.hagan
don.g.hagan

Visual FoxPro 6.0 and 9.0, ColdFusion, Access 2007, and VBScript. Visual FoxPro for lots of adhoc work.

john
john

A great 4GL development language that has been around for 30 years. It came out of the HP3000 mini computer at the same time Cognos' Powerhouse did. Speedware has matured with the web, so that it can be used as a CGI to the internet with Speedware's Autobahn product. They also have a capability to take their "green screen" on-line data entry screens and automatically convert it into HTML data entry pages. Also, the language is portable to other OSs. It runs on Windows, Linux, Unix, HP-UX, and HP's MPE-iX. You can, for the most part, take the code from one OS and run it on another OS with little or no changes. It also supports multiple types of databases. Our full production system is written in Speedware (400,000 lines of code) and has been running for 25 years and with more than 5 thousand users (not all a once) with only 3 technical support/developers. Another great thing with Speedware is that you can put bug fixes into production on the fly without the users even knowing that you have changed it.

jslarochelle
jslarochelle

I think Scala is ready for primne time. However, at work a lot of people are very conservative so it will be an uphill battle. JS

stephenbassettuk
stephenbassettuk

I use Clarion. the great thing with this is that it is not the actual language that is so powerful, rather it is the template language. You can rewrite the templates so that it output lisp (I've not seen this done but in principle it could be), PHP (there is a template chain for this), etc.

pdf6161
pdf6161

I wish there were a "Yes, for almost all my work."

stuart
stuart

All of the applications I work on were either FoxPro for DOS, converted to VFP 9.0, or in VFP 5.0. Great for data manipulation - the right tool for the right job.

Justin James
Justin James

Right now, I've been reading up on Ruby and trying to see where it can fit into our products, and I am investigating Python next. I've also looked at F# in the past and I am thinking that it may be a fit for our work as well. J.Ja

brian
brian

Only if bash shell scripts count. I do everything in perl, python, or shell scripts :) AWK!

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

1993 last time used that. Must admit I don't remember too much about it. I think my mind must have blanked out the trauma.....

PMPsicle
PMPsicle

The only production coding that I do myself is in LANSA (well ... ) Like Speedware LANSA grew out of the mid-range world (IBM iSeries in this case -- S/38/400 in those days). It's also been around for 20+ years -- and many systems that were written in the first version are still in use. It's interesting that tools like LANSA & Speedware have concentrated on one-click portability and functionality while "modern" tools require rewriting. A function of the "get your money's worth" mentality of the midrange vs the "that's so yesterday" mentality of the micro world. Like Speedware, With LANSA I can take a programmer have him developing an ERP system on a mainframe in the morning, a BI application on a PC by noon and a web delivery application on Linux in the afternoon. And then flip a switch and copy to all the other platforms (although I wouldn't do that personally -- designing for the lowest common denominator just isn't efficient -- better to steal what you can and add the extra security for the PC only). Not to mention that multi-platform app that's going to operate on multiple platforms (including Palms at one point). Bug fixing without dropping users is a function of the hardware -- can you imagine kicking off 5,000 users in order to fix a report typo???? But it's interesting that hotfixes have been built into the tool where the hardware doesn't support it (Windows for example). Personally I hate having to go back to "mainstream" languages like PHP, JAVA and VB. Fortunately, as a PM, BA and trainer I don't have to very often. Glen Ford, PMP http://www.TrainingNOW.ca http://apps.LearningCreators.com/blog

mattohare
mattohare

I had a devil of a time classifying mine. My enviromment is vb.net/ms-sql server on the inside, mysql/ruby on rails on the outside. The .net stuff is on 2003, but the database is 2008. Ruby and Rails are current versions, MySQL is 5. I put niche for my whole stack though since I do some pretty creative stuff with the lot.

Justin James
Justin James

... I'll leave it to the reader. Remember the comments I got along the lines of "How can you call XYZ 'niche'? My neighbor's nephew's best friend used it to write a recipe management system once." :) J.Ja

ekok
ekok

I hope Microsoft still support & develope Visual Foxpro. It is nice tool, I use VFP 90 for developing Finance & Accounting Application

ckasper
ckasper

Hmph. I can remember when Foxpro WAS mainstream... It's still a great tool for the task

jngant
jngant

Having used FORTRAN from early in my career, I was elated when I found a full-fledged DBMS whose syntax was very similar. As a point of interest, several of the mainstream postal processing systems are implemented entirely in FP 9. The co. is AccuZip, and FP handles the entire USPS national address database with considerable aplomb (AND speed). The same engine is used now by a different old-line postal software company. What I like most about FoxPro vs., for instance Access, is the immediate accessibility of the data via the "command" window: straightforward, fast, and just about any SQL command you can formulate is accommodated. I've written apps in FPro to do full-scale accounting, support data requirements of Defense Dept. operational models, and track my record, then CD collection. It may be "old-hat", but man, the mutha works! Too bad MS is ceasing selling of it soon, and support by 2015. Ahhh, WinTel!

njoy_d_ride
njoy_d_ride

The Fox is good! I've used it since DOS days.

phimuskapsi
phimuskapsi

The company I work for uses Foxpro for our Point of Sale software development. It is almost unbeatable in it's speed handling many databases that vary in size. Our software uses over 200 DB's and no problems. It's also fairly easy to learn to develop for, sort of a hybrid of SQL and OOP. You can also use SQL syntax for a lot of data manipulation as well.

BradutDima
BradutDima

Right, I also use FoxPro a lot, but for my personal projects.

clarkr
clarkr

R's main use is in statistical analysis routines. We have a c# front end passing arguments to an R script. R isn't the easiest language in the world particularly as all variables are vectors, which can be converted into different types of vectors (e.g. lists) that are subtley different...

NNW
NNW

Alpha Five V9/V10 PLATINUM ?Rapidly Build Robust Windows and Web 2.0 applications that perform with desktop-like speed, I agree. This is the reason my company has switched to Alpha. Builds Secure Web2.0 Applications with Reporting (take advantage of our built-in AJAX and your web apps can be as fast as desktop Applications) & Builds powerful Windows desktop Database Applications with ?SuperControls? and drill-down Reports. Use the built-in database engine or SQL databases such as MySQL, Oracle, SQL Server, Postgres, Enterprise DB or DB2. Get your solution completed Easily and in a fraction of the Time ? vs VB, Access, Filemaker, Visual Studio .NET, Java, Ruby & PHP. For developers looking to make the transition over to Web applications and leverage AJAX technology, Alpha Five V9/V10 proves to be a better choice than apps like Filemaker. We have created a full intranet database applications in 30 days. The one application was a full MFG. receipts, process, load, inventory features with interfaces to MAS90 for full accounting. This in .net, .Asp, etc. would be 90 days. Plus no desktop software just webserver based. Offices from around the country can log in and work. Nicholas Wieland-President EDFI Corp www.edfi.net Member of Independent Alphafive Developers Network www.alphadevnet.com/

theolog
theolog

It depends on your application. If you're doing screen display, that's one thing. If you're manipulating text files or satellite data, or a thousand other tasks, the old mainstream languages are still very good. I use exclusively VB and Fortran77/95. Much of the military is still written in VB/Fortran/C++/Jovial, etc. No point in reinventing the wheel for something that works well. Cheers, Tom

guitardave8077
guitardave8077

I still have production servers running ColdFusion MX 6.1, ColdFusion MX 7 and develop and test using ColdFusion 8... It's fairly fast, stupid easy to program and is what I inherited when I took over our sites' development. Oh and it's oh so overpriced. One day my goal is to migrate to LAMP.

dev
dev

I've used the Pascal Language since the DOS days when Turbo Pascal became popular. I've written in C/C++/C#, BASIC, PHP, Perl, and others, but for fast Windows development, I keep coming back to Delphi. It's had an interesting history but remains a solid product that can do anything in Win32 that needs to be done.

Shaunny Boy
Shaunny Boy

Back whilst studying my degree in uni. It was the most painful experience in my life...

Baruch Atta
Baruch Atta

Only if you would call COBOL a non-mainstream language. Which it is - not. COBOL is like the Mississippi compared to other main streams.

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

database and then apply them. Not the fastest thing you'll see, but it's simple, extensible, maintainable and it works.

SirWizard
SirWizard

For AutoCAD applications, I write code in AutoLISP, which is an AutoCAD-specific dialect of common LISP. LISP stands for LISt Processing, or the jocular Lost In Stupid Parentheses. It's a great artificial intelligence language, with an elegance and subtlety to it. My code often looks almost like poetry. LISP is extremely powerful for handling lists, and incredibly terse, that is, lots of functionality can be crammed into very little code. As an example of minimalist code power: I needed a way to select a calculated pen weight from a list of the standard AutoCAD pens (for plotting), so I wrote a general function to return a specified number from a supplied list of numbers. I like my routines to be applicable for as general use as possible, so the list can be integers and/or reals supplied in any order, not just ascending or descending. If the specified number is: A member of the list, it is returned. Less than the smallest member of the list, the smallest member is returned. Greater than the largest member of the list, the largest member is returned. Not a member of the list but in between list values, the larger of the two closest surrounding values is returned. How much code should that require? If I shorten variable names, use only built-in functions, and trim the white space that only helps human readability, my entire function is 75 characters: (defun i(m n)(apply 'min(mapcar '(lambda(x)(if(

MumpsGuy
MumpsGuy

Like many in the healthcare, we use Cache from Intersystems.

dstoltz
dstoltz

Although I've started the transition from ASP (Classic) to PHP, 90% of my work is still in ASP. It's not worth going back to re-write these applications. Going forward however, more of my work will be PHP. But I must say, I think ASP still has a lot of production implementations that are not going away any time soon.

PMPsicle
PMPsicle

Anything that isn't M* is automatically outside of mainstream in the eyes of many of the readers of TechRepublic. Even when there are more lines of code written in it than in all M* products combined! Is COBOL mainstream? RPG? C? (BTW, all of them are and continue to be enhanced and used -- just not in the MS/Intel world). Not that it matters to me ... I've always believed in choosing the tool that fits the job best. (Which is usually non-mainstream!) Glen Ford, PMP http://www.TrainingNOW.ca http://apps.LearningCreators.com/blog

Justin James
Justin James

I checked them out a while back (about a year ago, now), and I was impressed with what I saw of the product. Afterwards, many of their users commented and had good things to say about them as well. J.Ja

stephenlposey
stephenlposey

I love Delphi and would love to have a job coding with it. I miss it terribly sometimes, but right now C#/.NET is what's putting food on the table :-( Still use it for writing my own utilities and quickie test programs. Stephen Posey stephenlposey@earthlink.net

Sterling chip Camden
Sterling chip Camden

I read recently that it's estimated that 80% of all code currently in use world-wide is written in COBOL.

Justin James
Justin James

I was going to use it as the basis for a system in which we could create core functionality which could be overridden on a customer-by-customer basis with a single-install application, while still being able to upgrade the core app without breaking the customizations. J.Ja

gep2
gep2

Once you've learned SPITBOL instead of PERL, you'll never look back!!! You'll wonder how you dealt for so long with all the primitive crippling effects of having to use reg-ex type pattern matching. (You'll also love the huge improvement in performance!!)

Justin James
Justin James

I learned EdScheme (a variant of the Scheme dialect of LISP) in high school. I still miss its power from time to time. J.Ja

monkeypaw2u
monkeypaw2u

ASP and Javascript can do anything .NET and PHP can and it is native to both IIS and apache.

Sterling chip Camden
Sterling chip Camden

I rarely consider page views when I post -- though I do consider whether I might get delisted.

Justin James
Justin James

... I've always wondered just how many page views actually get generated by heavy forum activity. It would be nice to know the lurker ratio. Besides, I've recently learned that page views aren't *quite* as important as I had thought they were. :) Which is a bit freeing, in a way. J.Ja

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

You either get hit by reflection or use eval a lot. Principal reason we used it is the scripts are readable by the business guys and we didn't want to have to write our own parser, or our own eval style library. Keep meaning to look for improvements since MS bought into it, and did the DLR.

ryan.mclean
ryan.mclean

Should we be using old languages when there have been so many obvious improvements to the new implementations? I don't consider php a step up, but .net for sure, makes almost everything way easier/quicker.

dmeissner
dmeissner

You mentioned that ASP was native to both IIS and Apache. I was just curious how you went about implementing ASP on an Apache web server, I have been wanting to do this, but was under the impression that any ASP package for Apache was no longer supported. Also, if you have found any limitations with this setup, could you please share them. Any response to this is greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance.

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