Dynamic programming futures

JavaScript, Perl, PHP, Python, Ruby, and other dynamic languages are remaking the Web and bringing programming to the masses. Where should developers place their bets?

At the end of 2007, Larry Wall wrote, perhaps puckishly, that JavaScript "has some issues, but in the long run JavaScript might actually turn out to be a decent platform for running Perl 6 on."

Sophisticated engines such as SpiderMonkey and V8 show that scripting languages can begin to compete with full compiled code because a smart just-in-time compiler can make guesses about the data that are often good enough.

The stunning performance is bound to attract the attention of folks who dream of running JavaScript on the server. While Netscape tried this idea a long time ago, there's some merit in letting both the server and the client speak the same language. Now the only problem is figuring out which version of JavaScript to use. If history is any indication, it will be just a bit different from all of the browsers.

7. Emulation and cross-compilation will extend the life of dynamic code. Java programmers can use Jython to let Python code control Java objects. Groovy burrows deeply into the Java stack. Google's Web Toolkit converts Java into JavaScript. Watch for the virtual machines from Java and .Net to become even friendlier to changes that come along at runtime.

8. All of the embedding makes it simpler for programming to escape the command line and start appearing in Web applications themselves. Some of the highly customizable platforms let you add custom code in a Web form.

Uploading JavaScript or Python on the fly to customize a Web application is still only for real programmers, but it will become easier and easier for casual users to avoid bugging the IT staff by writing their own code. Some WordPress plug-ins let users edit the JavaScript that controls the ads. The bloggers may be changing only a few colors and details for Google AdSense, but these Turing-complete mini-sandboxes are going to bring programming to the masses.

Watch clouds like AppJet, a Web site that lets you build a Web application with one file filled with JavaScript. AppJet's Web site is the IDE: You just go to a Web page and edit the code, and voila, the code is tested right in your browser.

9. The rise of the amateurs may make much of dynamic programming irrelevant. Web sites such as Coghead, Caspio, and Microsoft's Popfly let the world do much of the programming without typing any characters at all -- unless they want to put a label on some Web form. All of the instructions for the server are communicated by mouse clicks, lines, and flowcharts. This democratization will create graphical languages that may flourish -- if the creators can make them simple enough for the average human.

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags software developmentperlprogramming

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Peter Wayner

Show Comments

Cool Tech

Crucial Ballistix Elite 32GB Kit (4 x 8GB) DDR4-3000 UDIMM

Learn more >

Gadgets & Things

Lexar® Professional 1000x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards

Learn more >

Family Friendly

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Plox Star Wars Death Star Levitating Bluetooth Speaker

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles


GGG Evaluation Team

Kathy Cassidy


First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni


For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Steph Mundell


The Fujitsu LifeBook UH574 allowed for great mobility without being obnoxiously heavy or clunky. Its twelve hours of battery life did not disappoint.

Andrew Mitsi


The screen was particularly good. It is bright and visible from most angles, however heat is an issue, particularly around the Windows button on the front, and on the back where the battery housing is located.

Simon Harriott


My first impression after unboxing the Q702 is that it is a nice looking unit. Styling is somewhat minimalist but very effective. The tablet part, once detached, has a nice weight, and no buttons or switches are located in awkward or intrusive positions.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?