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back to article GNOME project picks JavaScript as sole app dev language

The GNOME project, developers of the GNOME desktop for Linux, has decided JavaScript will be the only “first class” language it will recommend for developers cooking up new apps for the platform. Developer Travis Reitter, who does some work on GNOME, has posted his account of a discussion at last weekend's GNOME Developer …

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Going to the source...

Elevate the documentation?

Surely you actually have to have some documentation to elevate?

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How does this affect Unity?

Canonical have bought into the Gnome thing in a large way by using it as the basis for Unity. Does this mean that they are on board with this or are they going to wade in and start throwing their weight around?

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To rephrase your question ... (was: Re: How does this affect Unity?)

... does anybody who actually implements standards give a shit about Unity or Canonical?

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Holmes

Re: To rephrase your question ... (was: How does this affect Unity?)

I guess "it depends" .... on the standards ... and what you mean by these.

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FAIL

When you start mandating a "one true language" for your library, you are dooming yourself to oblivion because your idea of a brilliant language is somebody else's idea of a steaming pile of horsemess. The Gnome developers should be wary, Gnome 3 is very unpopular as it is.

Maybe they're mandating Javascript because all the hard core coder types have migrated to a different desktop already, leaving only Javascript web dev types.

It used to be that desktop environments and UI toolkits would provide complete and comprehensive APIs for multiple languages to hook in and use them. Now it seems the opposite is true.

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Gut feeling ...

"Maybe they're mandating Javascript because all the hard core coder types have migrated to a different desktop already, leaving only Javascript web dev types."

You are absolutely correct.

The kiddies have never seen a relay in action. They don't grok hex. The compile/assemble/link cycle is foreign to them. The very concept of C inline with assembler (or vice versa) is alien. They don't know what the heap, nor the stack, are for (much less that they exist). The poor deluded fools actually don't understand the nuts and bolts of the systems they are messing up ... They are loudly proclaiming "Look at us! We have absolutely no idea how to put together a user interface, but we want eye-candy! And the sheeple are buying into it, just like they are with Redmond & Cupertino! Aren't we kewl!"

My daughter weeps for her generation.

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Holmes

Re: Gut feeling ...

You are being too negative here.

> My daughter weeps for her generation.

Tell her to cheer up. Away from the shiny, there is still work to do.

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Headmaster

That word - I don't think it means what you think it means...

Since when does "encourage" mean "mandate"? Who said mandate?

again from http://treitter.livejournal.com/14871.html :

We will continue to distribute other bindings and documentation as we do now and compatibility for the other languages will continue to be developed as they are today by the developers involved with those modules.

Read what the guys themselves are saying they're going to do, read the discussions they're having, then you can comment.

But I guess that's not the Commentards' Way ;-)

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Anonymous Coward

Re: That word - I don't think it means what you think it means...

Since when does "encourage" mean "mandate"? Who said mandate?

In my book, when you focus on something it comes at the expense of the rest. If they focus more on Javascript, they'll obviously focus less on other languages (unless they somehow find new resources to handle the additional work, which I honestly doubt given the low popularity of Gnome3).

In other words, give them enough time and the only decent bindings will be Javascript, effectively extinguishing slowly the other bindings.

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WTF?

Re: Gut feeling ...

There is so much truth in this statement:

The poor deluded fools actually don't understand the nuts and bolts of the systems they are messing up ...

I had a very rancorous discussion with this 20-something who thinks that he understands networking. He thinks that 240 workers can easily share a few wireless APs without serious contention; and that we are completely certifiable for installing a shitload of cat 7 cable in order to have some really fat pipes to each desktop.

He doesn't get it.

He doesn't get that with that grade of cable (cat 7) and the average run at less than 50 meters may make upgrading to 10GBE to the desktop with copper feasible when the price of 10GBE silicon finally reaches the ground. He doesn't get that it would be possible to pull this off as part of an equipment refresh (in the future). And, I an not a networking guy. Our networking people basically told him to go up to the roof deck, and jump off (for being that fucking stupid).

WTF are the schools teaching these ID10Ts?????

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Coffee/keyboard

Re: Gut feeling ...

Schools teach these days? Earlier I read an article about the new "core curriculum" they are going to introduce...looks an awful lot like the stuff I did when I started school - in 1987. (such as teaching kids their multiplaction tables at an early age, and the importance of grammar and punctuation etc).

Also, an addition to your deluded 240 workers (which made me giggle) - you forgot to mention the sharing of a crappy inkjet printer between them all. ;-)

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@Fatman

"Our networking people basically told him to go up to the roof deck, and jump off (for being that fucking stupid).

WTF are the schools teaching these ID10Ts?????"

How best to deal with people who tell you that you don't know sh!t, you know; anger management, social training, gymnastics and when time permits they also try to include a bit of PFY study. Priorities, priorities...

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Re: Gut feeling ...

Schools teach these days?

My nephew and niece seem to have to learn all sorts of things at school -- it's gratifying to see that they are actually being encouraged to learn foreign languages other than French, for example -- but the tech stuff they get taught doesn't seem to be the right tech stuff.

... teaching kids their multiplaction tables at an early age ...

I learnt my multiplication tables at an early age -- but how I wish I'd learnt them in hex!

... you forgot to mention the sharing of a crappy inkjet printer between them all

Preserving forests by reducing the availability of printing resources. Good move!

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For goodness' sake

"Let's pick the worst language we can find with the worst dev tools."

Yes, yes. I'm sure JS on it's own is an elegant language. But you don't use a language in isolation.

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Re: For goodness' sake

> I'm sure JS on it's own is an elegant language.

You are actually not right.

There are people writing books like "JavaScript: The Good Parts". That's telling.

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Stop

Re: For goodness' sake

It is telling. It tells that with an open mind there are a fair few excellent features in javascript. Read "JavaScript: The Good Parts". It doesn't sugar the pill, there's quite a bit about the downright stupid features as well, but it makes it clear that with a little discipline it's possible to write things in javascript that are concise, readable and very powerful.

There are a lot of bad programmers. Currently a lot of them are working in javascript. That says nothing about the quality of the language, it just says where the money is.

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Linux

Re: For goodness' sake

When I've worked in Javascript I was thrown by the sheer number of options - for example there seemed to be about 8 ways to do inheritance, all of which come with their own pitfalls and occasionally need support (context binding).

As a language it's a real mess, IMHO. That doesn't mean you can't pick a decent subset and do great things with it though.

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Re: For goodness' sake

At last - Someone said it!

Javascript is an abhorrence. It's a close thing, but JS (and while we're at it, Perl) has to be well up there as one of the very worse languages ever invested. I think "unreadable, convoluted filth" is good place to start. It even makes Visual Basic look good!

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Re: one of the very worse languages ever invested

By that logic, and given the way you slaughter English, then English must be a shit language as well..

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Re: one of the very worse languages ever invested

I do however quite like AS3 which I think is just the next version of ECMA (please correct me). But I like it because it's basically just like Java... all that prototyping stuff is gone.

TBH if JS had proper dev tools in the same vein as Eclipse/VS I'm sure it would be just fine, so maybe it's simply the DOM and browser aspects that put me off.

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Re: For goodness' sake

COBOL and the various editions of Fortan?

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I love programmer snobbery.

It was hilarious in 1982, and it still is.

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Re: I love programmer snobbery.

It's not snobbery. It's about understanding how to use a machine-shop, not just a screwdriver.

1982? Newbie. You might be part of the problem ... Think about it.

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Re: I love programmer snobbery.

It's sounds like snobbery, it looks down it's nose like snobbery. My guess is it's snobbery. Or maybe just bad interpersonal skills and arrogance...

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Re: I love programmer snobbery.

I have written well-structured programmes in assembler.

Likewise, it is possible to write good code in Javascript (no doubt, I have not written any)

Whether either of the above is what I would want to do is another matter entirely. This is not a matter of snobbery, it is a matter of practicality. Scripting-based languages are very valuable for quick prototyping, or for portability, when top performance is not required (and JIT compilers go quite a long way to address performance issues). However, C and C++ are still my preferred tools, for development of high-performance code and will remain so for the foreseeable future.

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@sabroni (was: Re: I love programmer snobbery.)

Or maybe some of us actually do know how this shit works at a ones & zeros level, unlike (apparently) the GNOME kids..

I'll cop to the bad interpersonal skills. Don't like my personality? Don't hire me to fix your cock-ups. You probably can't afford me anyway.

I haven't had a 9-5 since the mid 1980s ... and I still turn down work on a fairly regular basis. People talk to me when systems need fixing. I fix them, but only if they agree to my terms & price-point.

It ain't snobbery or arrogance. It's competence in the given field. And the balls to tell Marketing & Management to fuck off when they need to be told to fuck off ... and having the background to explain to them (in excruciating detail) why, exactly, they are being fucking stupid. And then having the know-how to fix the problem(s), so the issue never rises again.

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Re: @sabroni (was: I love programmer snobbery.)

Why are you being such an arse jake? So you are good at your job and know how the "shit works at ones & zeros level". When a company needs "cock-ups" fixing then I'm sure you are the man. However, when a company needs a well designed and usable UI I would make a bet you're not the guy they ring. Just because you are hot at something doesn't mean your hot at everything and it doesn't mean that everything you are not hot at is shite.

Let's be honest, there are people out there who "have never seen a relay in action" and "don't grok hex" who also don't need a 9-5 and turn down work on a fairly regular basis (the 1980s thing just proves you're old, not hot).

This is not a comment on the rightness or wrongness of GNOME's decision, it's a comment to point out that just because your way works for you and what you do it doesn't work for everyone and everything.

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Headmaster

Re: I love programmer snobbery.

"If it looks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, we have at least to consider the possibility that we have a small aquatic bird of the family anatidae on our hands."

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Re: @sabroni: You probably can't afford me anyway.

Wow. You are so cool!

I take it all back, my years in the industry are obviously less relevant than yours and I work 9 to 5 so I can't be very good at my job. My experience with Javascript is obviously trumped by the fact you know it's beneath you. I am so, so sorry that I had the temerity to question your post and, worse, to have a different opinion.

Please forgive me jake.

please....

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WTF?

Dear God

I thought GNOME could no longer jump any more sharks, this time it's doing it with somersaults and fireworks!

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Joke

Re: Dear God

And they have added frickin' lasers to the sharks

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It isn't

as though anyone actually uses Gnome_latest anymore. The only "widespread" usage of Gnome is that of Gnome_old.

The work of the Zimians continues, apparently. But, we all know what can happen around the monkey cages at the zoo!

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WTF?

Especially fast?!

“There's a lot of work going into the language to make it especially fast ..."

Seriously - WTF? Fast compared to what? It might be several times faster than Perl, but it is sure as hell several times slower than Java and several hundred times slower than C++.

Yet again we have an inferior language hyped up because of people who are too stupid to use pointers.

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Re: Especially fast?!

"Fast compared to what? It might be several times faster than Perl,"

Well... not if you're using it to process text. Perl beats the crap out of most languages in that field. All languages are optimized to one degree or another for particular domains which their designers, and the compiler writers, thought important, and that might not even be a domain within the execution sphere. Smalltalk, for example, chose the important domain to optimize was the writing of the software rather than the speed of execution.

JS is not a universally broken language and it can be quite good at some things but it's very dynamic and that makes it very easy for undisciplined coders to write spaghetti code. Recommending it for all your apps is asking for trouble, IMO.

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Re: Especially fast?!

Java isn't 100 times slower than C++.

Has anyone seen any benchmarks comparing JS on different browsers with non-JS options? Not sure quite how it would work but couldn't you try to compare JS Vs Flash/Silverlight/Java in the same browser somehow? Even NaCl or a bespoke C++ plugin.

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WTF?

what the hell?

Mandating one language is stupid. But even if you go down that route, why the hell not choose something like Vala https://live.gnome.org/Vala/Documentation - a language that compiles to C, has modern C# syntax and is actually built around GObject and the GNOME libraries?

I've been using GNOME since 1.0 but I just don't understand what they're playing at any more.

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Re: what the hell?

It seems especially weird in the word of FOSS, where so many sub-cultures are "backward" and hang on to pure C. This is the exact opposite.

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Wow guys way to pick the worst possible option.

I actually quite like GNOME 3 but if most of the apps switch to Javascript it'll become so slow and buggy I'll have to switch to something else.

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Joke

No wonder captain janeway...

... was so adept at writing "algorithms" in 45 minutes that would interface with alien networks and discover ways to disable borg cubes... or discover ways to drive ships beyond there normal speeds - LCARS obviously also runs on JavaScript.... and this is how it all began, by letting every firefox extension writer create desktop apps.

I always found it strange that as well as being olympic athletes, starfleet officers are also fluent linguists, quantum theorist, artists, navigators, musicians, theatre actors... and they can all rewrite the starfleet operating system and write computer programs... now we know why ;)

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WTF?

XSS Vulns? In MY menu bar?!

GNOME needs to stop being all things to everyone (and doing everything equally poorly as a result).

If programming for GNOME is too hard it is because GNOME doesn't know what it wants to be anymore: not the UI, not the platform, and not the paradigm. Blaming the programming language does not alter any of that.

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Stop

Just another reason I'd never install Gnome on a personal machine.

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WTF Gnome?

JavaScript as a primary dev language? Has the Gnome team lost their freaking minds? Or did I just wake up in the Twilight Zone* this morning.

*No, not the one with sparkly vampires. The other one.

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Stop

Really, guys?

I, too, once hated poor JavaScript, and derided it publicly, but then I discovered Node.

After a couple years with Node, JS is now my weapon of choice for writing the big-data infrastructure that puts bread on the table. Why? Speed. Not of execution, but of development - we iterate rapidly and V8 is, as it happens, fast enough - when you can't scale up, scale out, problem solved.

But most importantly, JS makes writing tests far, far easier than, say, Java or C++ - both of which I've used professionally for many years. And you want the barriers to test coverage to be as low as possible.

It appears that most of those voicing their opinions here have not used JS professionally for serious work and thus think it isn't fit for serious work. This is like seeing someone digging with a hammer and deriding the hammer for being a terrible shovel. Just because someone is doing awful things in [your favorite language] should not affect whether it's the best tool for your job.

Node is stunningly efficient for what I do, and many others will tell you the same. JS is a language that happens to be built into browsers and happens to be used by legions of unskilled quasi-developers. It is also used by some of the most brilliant engineers I know.

Being closed-minded when it comes to tools is not a feature; it's a bug.

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Re: Being closed-minded when it comes to tools is not a feature; it's a bug.

This!!!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Really, guys?

Hmm I don't think it's about closed-mindset. More like basic elementary knowledge of how assembly > compiled > interpreted > script performance wise.

NodeJs IS fast, but Java equivalents are faster.

All things aside, one can easily code their own libraries in C/Java with good API designs that makes their lives easier so the argument that Javascript greatly improves productivity is not a valid argument (to a good engineer).

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Re: basic elementary knowledge of how assembly > compiled > interpreted > script performance wise

Ah, the true Scotsman argument. If you're a GOOD engineer you'll agree with me. If you disagree with me you must be a poor engineer.

prick.

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Boffin

Re: Really, guys?

JavaScript is good for one thing only: webby stuff. It works as a webpage enrichment language and to make web stuff look c00l, and alternatively for AJAX stuff.

But it sucks for anything else. I'd rather do stuff in *Perl* than Javascript!

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Re: Really, guys?

Hmm. Node.js presumably works just great on big data for quick development and testing, right up until you actually have real big data coming in.

I bit like how Twitter proved how great Ruby-on-Rails was, until it fell over and had to be re-written. Or how Facebook used PHP, but had to write their own spec PHP->native code compiler because they were going to run out of floorspace for servers otherwise.

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WTF?

Re: Really, guys?

JS makes writing tests far, far easier than, say, Java or C++

Explain!

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Holmes

Don't laugh so laxatively

Hmm. Node.js presumably works just great on big data for quick development and testing, right up until you actually have real big data coming in.

Node.js seems to follow where Erlang was a long time ago:

http://stackoverflow.com/questions/2206933/how-to-write-a-simple-webserver-in-erlang

Now, Erlang is a language that has no mutable datastructures and is thus a very long way away from the fears, trepidations and buggery engendered by C and their associated "spiky" { } - adorned offspring.

Webservers in Erlang run pretty well

So a good JavaScript framework and compiler might well succeed too. If you throw enough time and money at it.

P.S. There is not even a meme description for the Garma Zabi utterance "Don't laugh so laxatively". WTF?

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