By Kathleen Kriz
New languages, cloud computing and hands-on Android development demonstrations were all part of the fare last week at the OSCON conference in Portland, Ore. Of note, Google Distinguished Engineer Rob Pike addressed the growing complexity of computing languages and asked if they are more complicated than they really need to be.
“C++ made it possible to have a higher order and more sophisticated language available on Unix,” said Pike. But he continued to say that this language, along with Java, is difficult to use, and both are too subtle and intricate.
“I think it’s oversold. I think it’s used far too broadly, and it doesn’t solve any problem particularly well. It solves a lot well, but not all,” said Pike.
He noted that new dynamic languages were coming forward, however they have their own flaws. For example, they are slow, and are they not type-safe. “There’s room for a language to succeed in a place that dispels this dichotomy, and gives you all the good things of the statically typed compile languages, and all the good things of the dynamic interpretive languages,” he said. All of this was by way of introduction to Go, a new language touted by Google, which is said to combine the safety and performance of static-typed languages with the expressiveness of dynamic languages.
Also at OSCON, Rackspace discussed its proposed open-source OpenStack cloud computing initiative. The company is working with NASA and its Nebula cloud computing platform. This will help both NASA and OpenStack, and ensure that OpenStack meets all the federal requirements.
From the blogosphere comes a note on something missing at OSCON. That would be the lack of women, according to Audrey Watters. But the absence of women at the conference is just the tip of the iceberg – the entire technology field seems to be missing that dose of estrogen. According to her blog, women make up 25 percent of the tech industry, but they make up a mere 1 percent of Open Source. She asks if the men of open source even notice the lack of their female counterparts.