Programming Languages: A *Useful* Comparison?

Subject: Programming Languages: A *Useful* Comparison?
From: "Joe Malin" <jmalin -at- tuvox -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 28 Dec 2005 10:56:13 -0800


Can anyone point me to a web site, document, etc that has a "useful"
technical comparison of some of these languages:

* Java
* Ruby
* Perl
* Python

I am familiar with all of them, but I wonder why they all exist
concurrently. I'm always hearing from engineers that one of them is "the
best language". When pressed, these same engineers can't define *why*
they say it, other than pointing out some great feature that the others
don't have. Perhaps that particular feature is useful (even to me), but
maybe it's just a neat theoretical idea that nobody uses?

For example: of these, I've known Java the longest. It makes a lot of
sense to me. I know that it takes longer to develop a program in it than
the others. I like it perhaps because I'm most familiar with it.

People have told me to use Perl or Python because they are "easier".
I've tried both with some success, but quite frankly I don't understand
the fascination. OK, I can write a program faster in them. But using
somebody *else's* program is often much harder.

Some of Perl's concepts are kinda goofy (like chomp). Python is a bit
more straightforward, and I like that you can run it in an interactive
interpreter. So, why have *Ruby*, then?

I try to read "expert" reviews of these languages, but the experts are
quite frankly not good writers. The last work I read on Ruby said that
some feature was "amazingly easy"; I couldn't see why you'd use it! What
*I* want is something that says "Use Java to do <x>, because it is
[better/faster/easier]; Use Perl to do <y>", and so forth.

By the way, at this company we develop products in Java, and write
quick-and-dirty tools in Perl or Python. I have seen people walking
around with Ruby books. Sigh.

TuVox, Inc.

19050 Pruneridge Avenue Suite 150, Cupertino, CA 95014-0715

Joe Malin
Technical Writer
jmalin -at- tuvox -dot- com <>
The views expressed in this document are those of the sender, and do not
necessarily reflect those of TuVox, Inc.

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