You are on page 1of 5

5 Programming Languages Marked for Death

insights.dice.com/2014/10/09/5-programming-languages-marked-for-death/
As developers embrace new programming languages, older languages can go one of two ways: stay
in use, despite fading popularity, or die out completely. We predict the following languages will
likely die:

Perl
There was a time when everyone seemingly programmed in Perl. But for those of us who used the
language regularly, there was something about it that didnt seem right. One programmer I knew
called it a piecemeal language, because it seemed as if the creators had just piled features on top
of features without giving much thought as to how everything fit together.
Click here to find programming jobs.
Indeed, even its creators seemed to (implicitly) acknowledge that something was wrong, kicking off
work on Perl6, currently under development as a complete revamp of the language. Work on Perl6
started in the year 2000. Where is it? Who cares? Perl is dead. Dont bother learning it.
Incidentally, heres a Goodbye World! written in Perl:
#!/usr/bin/perl
print Content-type: text/html\n\n;
print Goodbye, world!\n;
This example (derived from http://www.lies.com/begperl/hello_cgi.html) produces a Web page.
Perl, which works as a CGI scripting language, found its most popular use in generating Web pages.
The language had its daybut now is as good a time as any to ditch Perl and embrace the 21st
century.
Upload Your ResumeEmployers want candidates like you. Upload your resume. Show
them youre awesome.

Ruby
Just ten years ago, Ruby was all the rage. Invented in 1995, the unique language hit its stride by the
mid-aughts. People who use Ruby on a regular basis absolutely love it. But those of us who grew up
with C-style languages tend to have a little trouble learning its ropes.
Heres a simple Goodbye World! in Ruby:
puts Bye bye, Miss American Ruby! Drove my Chevy to the Levie
puts 2011 was the day that Ruby died, yeah
And heres a more complex example that calculates a factorial, found here:
def fact(n)

if n == 0
1
else
n * fact(n-1)
end
end
puts fact(ARGV[0].to_i)
I tested this out to find the factorial of 1000. Heres part of the response; I deleted the middle of the
2569 digits to save space:
ruby fact.rb 1000
402387260077093773543702433923000000000
By all accounts, its a cool language and everybody has good things to say about it except Twitter.
In April 2011, Twitter announced that they had rewritten much of their code in order to move away
from Ruby and its popular Web framework, Ruby on Rails, claiming the platforms were inefficient.
That, I would argue, was the day Ruby started to die; over the past three and a half years, interest
has begun to wane. If you love Ruby, you can thank Twitter for its demise.

Visual Basic.NET
Ten years ago, I landed a job rewriting massive amounts of code for a company that shall go
nameless, converting from VB6 to Visual basic.NET. I only lasted a couple months before I bailed:
It was an excruciating task.
Microsofts long love of the BASIC programming language extends all the way back to 1991, when
the company purchased a pretty awesome (for its time) visual programming designer from Alan
Cooper. He originally used a different language, but Bill Gates told him to replace the language
with BASIC, which he felt was the easiest language in use at the time. For most of the 1990s, we
got to see this new breed of BASIC, dubbed Visual Basic, grow to include objects and other newer
programming techniques.
Then something interesting happened. The guy who headed up the creation of Borland Delphi,
Anders Hejlsberg, moved over to Microsoft and headed up the creation of a new language called
C#. This language was very similar to Java. It took a while for people to start using it, but once they
did, they loved it. C# soon became Microsofts flagship programming language. To this day, there
are many, many C# jobs, and C# programmers command high salaries.
While Microsoft created C# to target its own CLR runtime, its engineers also created a version of
Gates beloved BASIC language, named it Visual Basic.NET. The language still bore the syntax of
BASIC, but the coding approach was similar to that of C#. Both languages moved forward, but it
was inevitable that the world would embrace one (C#) at the expense of the other. Thats why

Visual Basic.NET has been reduced to C#s little stepbrother in hospice care.
Heres a Visual Basic.NET program from Microsofts website:
Allow easy reference to the System namespace classes.
Imports System
This module houses the applications entry point.
Public Module modmain
Main is the applications entry point.
Sub Main()
Write text to the console.
Console.WriteLine (Hello World using Visual Basic!)
End Sub
End Module
(Feel free, of course, to sub out Hello World for Goodbye World.)

Adobe Flash and AIR


Technically these are platforms, not languages. Im including them because, in order to use them,
you need Adobes own version of EcmaScript, called ActionScript. ActionScript is a close cousin to
JavaScript, which (love it or hate it) is one of the most popular languages today due to its
implementation in all browsers. ActionScript adds a few details to EcmaScript (which is the official
name of the standard, of which JavaScript is an implementation); you wont really find ActionScript
anywhere except for Adobe Flash.
Do you use Flash? Steve Jobs hated how it hogged his devices processors, and refused to allow it
onto the iPhone. As the iPhone (and subsequently the iPad) grew in popularity, Web developers
found themselves forced to create websites that didnt rely on Flash. Developers who made a living
coding up ActionScript for Flash-powered sites screamed bloody murder. (I personally saw a Flash
developer tell off a room of JavaScript developers for destroying his career.)
Adobe tried to keep its programming platform alive via AIR, paired with a tool for building AIR
apps called Flex. AIR was, in the estimation of many, a disaster. It wasnt clear what Adobe wanted
out of the whole process; did they want people to ditch Flash and use AIR instead? Or were they
expecting AIR and Flash to live on together?
For a short time it looked as if AIR would take off, thanks to its use in a popular Twitter platform
called TweetDeck, which required users to install the AIR runtime on their computers. That might
have opened up millions of PCs for AIR apps, except Twitter bought TweetDeck in 2011 and
rewrote it using native code instead of AIR. So much for AIR.

And between the deaths of both Flash and AIR, Adobes ActionScript can kiss the world goodbye as
well. Heres some sample ActionScript code. (If you use the Flex command-line tools you can
compile this into a Flash thingamajob that you can embed in an HTML page):
package {
import flash.display.*;
import flash.text.*;
public class HelloWorld extends Sprite {
private var greeting:TextField = new TextField();
public function HelloWorld() {
greeting.text = Hello World!;
greeting.x = 100;
greeting.y = 100;
addChild(greeting);
}
}
}
(Those with programming knowledge might notice how the above looks very similar to JavaScript,
both using var, function, and new, and accessing member variables with a dot.)

Delphis Object Pascal


With sincere apologies to my fallen Delphi comrades, I must announce the death of Object Pascal.
Okay, Delphi (the tool for developing Object Pascal) actually lives on, having moved between
companies (it originated with Borland, and now sits with Embarcadero).
The original Delphi and its Object Pascal language actually presented a great working environment;
the language was a bit wordy, but the compiler was fast and it was much easier to create Windows
programs in compared to Visual Basic (Im talking pre-Visual Basic.NET here, around 1995).
The momentum didnt continue. Its hard to say just why, since the platform was really quite good.
Meanwhile, Borland began supporting C# and C++ in its Delphi line of products. Long story short,
Delphi was eventually sold off to Embarcadero, which continues to produce it. Its big, and its
sophisticated, and continues to do reasonably wellbut its focus is not Pascal. Yes, you can still do
Pascal programming in it, but few people do; in fact, you can use Delphi to build for many different
platforms including iOS, Android, and, soon, Linux.
But if you go to the Embarcadero website, youll see that they mainly promote Delphis C++

support. So, Object Pascal is dead. I say this with sadness, as Ive spent quite a bit of time
programming in Pascal and especially Delphis Object Pascal. But thats life.
Heres some Object Pascal code:
program HelloWorld;
begin
writeln(You say goodbye.)