Tuesday, April 07, 2009

A Good Mix 2: Newspapers, Testing and Samples

Another short selection of recent IronPython related articles.
I was recently at the QCon conference in London, speaking on IronPython in the "Emerging Languages" track organised by Ola Bini. After the conference the guardian newspaper published an article on the diverse languages that are becoming mainstream. At first I was surprised that a British paper could publish a sensible article on programming languages, but then I noticed it was by Tim Anderson - a noted and long time tech blogger and writer. A couple of extracts:
The recent trend is towards dynamically typed languages, which use inference to reduce the amount of code to be written. Java, C# and C++ are "static typed" languages, whereas JavaScript, Ruby, Python and PHP (used by Facebook) use "dynamic typing". In static languages, the programmer must declare each variable's class (such as string, integer, or list) before the program runs; in dynamic typing, it is assessed as the program runs. Fowler says Ruby is between two and five times more productive than Java. "In static languages, there are all these speed bumps. You can just express yourself more rapidly in languages like Ruby and Python, and that gives you an edge. That edge does make a significant productivity difference."

Despite growing interest in emerging languages, the dominance of Java and C# is unlikely to be shaken soon. One reason is that many of the alternatives compile to a format that executes on the Java or .NET runtimes, such as Groovy and JRuby, which are dynamic languages for Java, and Iron Ruby, Iron Python and F#, which run on .NET. This enables easy integration and access to rich runtime libraries. "People are not learning new languages to escape from platforms, rather they are trying to find new ways of doing things better on the existing platforms," says Bini.
This is the second part of Ben Hall's article on testing .NET applications with IronRuby, published in the Microsoft MSDN Magazine (the first part was Getting Started with IronRuby and RSpec).
The Microsoft Live Framework is "the uniform way for programming Live Services from a variety of platforms, programming languages, applications and devices".

These samples are in addition to the ones that ship with the SDK and include ProfileInfo which "Demonstrates how retrieve a user’s Windows Live Profile information using IronPython and the Live Framework .NET Toolkit".
An update to Steve Gilham's orrery-clock (that tells you the date and time at specified latitude and longitudes) written with IronPython and Silverlight.
Part 1 of this post gave a quick overview of writing a custom “parser generator” for Excel formulas. Here we’ll take a look at a way to bind that to the DLR. You can try out a sample Silverlight 2.0 application here. (Code available for download from Codeplex.)

The goal here is to create a calculation engine that understands Excel-like formulas, allowing for cell dependencies, simple ranges and custom functions.

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