Updated: 29/8/03; 2:23:09 pm.
James Strachan's Radio Weblog
Ramblings on Open Source, Java, XML and other geeky malarkey
        

Friday, August 29, 2003

Dynamically typed languages like Ruby and Python are getting quite popular it seems. I'm still not convinced we should all move to dynamically typed languages any time soon - however I see no reason why we can't use both dynamically and statically typed languages and choose the best tool for the job.

I've wanted to use a cool dynamically typed scripting language specifically for the Java platform for a little while. There's plenty to choose from but none of them quite feel right - especially from the perspective of a die hard Java programmer. Python and Ruby are both pretty cool - though they are platforms in their own right. I'd rather a dynamic language that builds right on top of all the groovy Java code out there & the JVM.

Jython, beanshell and Rhino are quite close - but none of them quite feel right for my needs. (JRuby looks dead, Jython's quite behind Python though it is the closest to what I want right now). Apart from beanshell, most of them are languages designed with other use cases or criteria in mind and the bridge to the JVM was an afterthought and so don't quite sit nicely in a Java (platform & language) developers toolkit - even if thats just some minor syntax things (like __init__ and self in Jython).

So I've been musing a little while if its time the Java platform had its own dynamic language designed from the ground up to work real nice with existing code; creating/extending objects normal Java can use and vice versa. Python/Jython's a pretty good base - add the nice stuff from Ruby and maybe sprinkle on some AOP features and we could have a really Groovy new language for scripting Java objects, writing test cases and who knows, even doing real development in it.

I'm finding that most of the time spent in a TDD style development model is actually coding the unit tests. There's typically lots of unit test code for little application code. Also there does seem to be some baggage when writing unit tests in java. This seems a great opportunity for using a concise & powerful dynamically typed language. So the initial idea was to make a little dynamic language which compiles directly to Java classes and provides all the nice (alleged) productivity benefits of python / ruby but allows you to reuse, extend, implement and test your existing Java code - and use that to write your unit tests. Add a little groovy maven plugin and hey presto, we've boosted the TDD development cycle and created a nice dynamically-typed alternative to Java along the way.

After some IRC chats with bob a new groovy language for the JVM has started to take shape, called Groovy. Its still very early days and much of this just exists on the GroovyWiki though bob's started work on the lexer & I've started hacking some GroovyTests (unit tests in groovy) together to test the Groovy language implementation whenever we get the compiler/runtime working.

We'd love to hear any thoughts or ideas folks have - either via groovy-dev email list or GroovyWiki or just via the comments on this blog entry. Please do add any thought you've got to the WishList page.

We're starting simple with the nice tuples, sequences, maps from python & closures from ruby and being concise & dynamically typed with a java-look-and-feel though where we end up is anyones guess right now.
2:06:06 PM    comment []

© Copyright 2003 James Strachan.
 
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