Commit d7767f60 authored by Sameer Rahmani's avatar Sameer Rahmani

the plafrom post has been added

parent 60178fb5
---
layout: post
title: "Choosing the right platform"
date: 2019-12-07
categories: Programming
tags: language
theme: dark
---
After wrapping my head around the [rational](/programming/rational-and-a-name/) of
[My new programming language](/programming/my-new-programming-language/), I have
a big decision to make. Choose a platform.
As programmers, we have a tough life when it comes to making a decision that
has direct impact on our product. I'm pretty sure you went through this process
at least once. From choosing a semantically great name for a variable to choosing
a right technology for your next billion dollar startup. It is always hard to
pick a tech stack for a new project. Specially when the new product happens to be
a new programming language. If I get my hands dirty with a wrong tech stack for
a simple web application, no big deal. I still can rewrite the whole thing and
pay a penalty. But in case of programming languages that's not the case. Wrong
platform can easily destroy you. From the dawn of computers, many smart people
created tons of languages. But only few of them made it to the top. While there
are so many reasons for their success, going with the right platform is one
the most important ones.
The obvious question that comes to mind when we're talking about "The platform"
is that should we build a platform from scratch or should we piggyback on others?
Creating a programming language and a virtual machine from scratch is gigantic and
bone crushing task. It needs a crazy set of skills and knowledge. Even with such
wisdom and experience people who went through it has made many mistakes and had to
constantly iterate to come up with the right implementation. The evolution of
programming languages such as [Scheme](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scheme_%28programming_language%29)
is a good example of it (for more information take a look at [R6RS](http://www.r6rs.org/)).
While I think creating a programming language and a VM from scratch is really fun,
but it can be really frustrating as well. I don't want to get annoyed with myself
during the process and abandon my goal. I should ride on the shoulders of the giants
to gain benefit from their great work. I should choose a platform that helps me to
move faster and iterate through different ideas quicker.
From technical perspective, Starting from scratch means that I have to write a
program that includes at least a parser and a compiler. Building a compiler
is no joke. Hypothetically let's say we have a working compiler and parser, What
about use libraries and ecosystem ?? It would be really hard to convince people
to use a programming language that does not have any useful library and they have
to build everything by themselves. It might have been the case 30 years ago but
it is not the case in the modern age of programming languages anymore.
So the idea of creating [Serene](https://serene-lang.org) from scratch is out of
the picture. We need to find a good platform for it. But what are the options ???
## Racket
> Racket is a general-purpose programming language as well as the world’s first ecosystem
> for language-oriented programming. Make your dream language, or use one of the dozens
> already available.
[Racket](http://racket-lang.org) is a dialect of Lisp which allows us to build our own
language by extending it. While Racket is really cool and have long list of pros and
[many reasons why to use it](https://beautifulracket.com/appendix/why-racket-why-lisp.html)
(It's Lisp after all), it has a disadvantage that forced me to stop thinking about it
for **Serene**. As I mentioned in the [rational](/programming/rational-and-a-name/)
I'm not trying to build a toy language or a domain specific one and Racket's ecosystem
isn't as great as a battle tested and well-known ecosystem like Java or Python (or other
popular ecosystems).
## Javascript
We're living in the age of Web and one of the big players in this era is Javascript. The number
of the programming languages that compile to Javascript is increasing rapidly. Javascript
as a language [sucks](https://whydoesitsuck.com/why-does-javascript-suck/) but as platform
it is amazing. Lots of money and engineering afford has been spent on improving Javascript engines.
As a result Javascript is a crappy language with well engineered engines such as
[V8](https://v8.dev/).
Creating a language base on Javascript platform means that I have to be involved with the whole
transpiling scenario and deal with the fact that this new language can be used on different
browsers or on the backend. Or even on IE6 (Just kidding). I don't want to deal with all this.
I think Javascript platform can't be a good fit for what I need. So i won't go in details about
it
## Python
Python is another famous platform form creating programming languages. Many people has built
programming languages on top of Python (Checkout [Lispy](http://norvig.com/lispy.html) if you're
a Python fan). Python is super popular these days and you'll see it everywhere. Creating a language
on top of Python (just like Javascript) gives me access to a rich ecosystem with huge number of
libraries and a robust ecosystem.
But as I mentioned in the [rational](/programming/rational-and-a-name/) I want support for built-in
concurrency and parallelism. Python isn't even good when it comes to parallelism and concurrency.
I'm using python for more that 10 years now and I'm very familiar with it. I know about all the
effort to create useful concurrency and parallelism such as asyncIO. But the fact is Python
is not designed for this job. **GIL** is a huge problem in Python that literally prevents
us from Running two piece of code in parallel in two kernel space thread. It is a problem
for me. If you can't do a decent concurrency and parallel execution you have no chance
against modern languages like Clojure, Go, Elixir and others. Python is fine now despite
of its problems because it is good at other stuff and people accepted it for what it is.
Python is out there for about 25 years now and it has established a big community. If
Guido van Rossum created Python a year ago, I'm pretty sure that it would've fail because
it can't compete with modern languages. Don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to trash Python.
It is great and it has many good qualities but a good Concurrency and parallel execution model
ain't one of them.
## BEAM
Erlang ecosystem is amazing, Robust and well tested. I have read a lot about it and when
ever I'm studying anything around computer science that can be related to Erlang, I ask
myself "How is Erlang doing it?". Erlang ecosystem truly had a huge impact on the world
today.
The problem with Erlang ecosystem for me is that I always read about it and my knowledge
around it is only theoretical. Building a language on top a platform needs a good level
of practical experience on the platform as well which I don't have that. So it's obvious
that I have to pass.
## JVM
As much as I dislike Java (Mostly because of the syntax and the fact that it is an object
oriented language), I like JVM a lot.
## One VM to rule them all
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