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The state of the scripting universe

Lynn Greiner | Sept. 1, 2008
With the rise of Web 2.0, scripting languages are now often considered important tools in a developer's arsenal.

Lam: Ajax is popular because browsers are popular. JavaScript's popularity is directly tied to the fact that it's deployed on virtually all browsers today. Right now, there really aren't any other dynamic languages for the browser that are widely deployed, so nobody's really trying. I coined the term ARAX to try and drive some thinking around using Ruby in the browser as an alternative language to JavaScript. That generated some interest in the Rails community since they would be interested in running some of their Ruby code in the browser.

Pall: Ajax is a very specific technology that allows webpages to rise above mediocre user-interfaces and become true applications using JavaScript. Flash ActionScript has had this capability for a while, but now lightweight solutions are possible without depending on proprietary tools like Flash that are sometimes not available for use in large internal projects or secure sites.

Top Fortune 500 companies have limitations in their technology choices that must be adhered to, and Ajax has brought needed functionality to Web applications that are now replacing legacy Visual Basic applications, and doing it while being compatible across operating systems. Using Firefox to run Web applications internally on GNU/Linux based operating systems, with its solid Ajax implementation, has cut down licensing costs for many school boards across the province of Ontario, Canada, for example. This savings can be translated into hundreds of thousands of dollars saved. What is the one thing you would tell a CIO who is considering scripting languages?

Boyd: Whether or not to use a specific language depends on the problem you're trying to solve. If you want to create richer browser-based applications, then JavaScript is an obvious answer. And JavaScript is also worth considering if you'd like to add scripting capabilities to other applications.

Dice: Scripting languages are the expanding frontier of programmer productivity and they are the first technologies to expand into whatever new niches appear in IT. They're the best way to future-proof your efforts without sacrificing new opportunities.

Of all the scripting languages, Perl offers the biggest installed base of applications, of code, of integrated systems, of skilled programmers. It has the lowest defect rate of any open-source software product. It is ported to essentially every hardware architecture and operating systems, from embedded control systems to mainframes. It is optimized for speed, for memory footprint, for programmer productivity. It has readily-accessible libraries for all types of programming tasks: Web application development, systems and network integration and management, end-user application development, middleware programming, REST and service-oriented architecture programming. Perl is ideal for the organization that takes charge of its own IT future.

Hobbs: First and foremost, scripting (dynamic) languages are here to stay. Dynamic languages better support an adaptive/iterative development model, and so are of increasing importance in the fast changing IT landscape of the early 21st century. They provide an excellent complement and often a better outright replacement for systems languages (such as Java, C++ and C#).


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