Features of a dream programming language: 2nd draft.

This page summarizes the projects mentioned and recommended in the original post on dev.to

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  • seedling

    A Programming Language for Everyone and Everything

  • Webapp / app + systems development. In Rich Hickey's words: Information-driven situated programs. Ideally, also open to extension into more areas of programming. Scripting and prototyping, but also scalable to production use (app/webapp) Systems development (compiled)

  • proposal-pipeline-operator

    A proposal for adding a useful pipe operator to JavaScript.

  • No Place-oriented programming (PLOP), iow. avoid order-dependence at almost any cost, since it isn't adaptable/scalable. Inspired by Clojure. This goes for reorderability of expressions due to pure functions having no side-effects. Such reordering is desired since it allows structuring programs in a finish-to-start/high-to-low-level) manner, enabling the reader to incrementally drill down into the code with the underlying implementation (same reason that JS has function hoisting). Order-independence also goes for parameter lists to functions. I don't want to have to use a _ placeholder for places where there could be a parameter, just because I didn't supply one. Shouldn't have to sacrifice piping just to get named arguments, either (piping should use an explicit pipe operator). Counter-inspired by Elm, and inspired by Hack. Consequence (?): would need a data structure like a record but which ideally can be accessed in an order-independent manner.

  • WorkOS

    The modern identity platform for B2B SaaS. The APIs are flexible and easy-to-use, supporting authentication, user identity, and complex enterprise features like SSO and SCIM provisioning.

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  • infernu

    Type inference and checking for a safer JavaScript.

  • Very constrained. Since "constraints liberate, liberties constrain", as Bjarnason said. Inspired by Golang's minimalism, and Elm's guardrails. For learnability and maintainability. Since discipline doesn't scale (obligatory xkcd: with too much power, and the wrong nudges, all it takes is a moment of laziness/crunch-time to corrupt a strong foundation), and a complex language affords nerd-sniping kinds of puzzles, and bikeshedding and idiomatic analysis-paralysis. Counter-inspired by Haskell. The virtue of functional programming is that it subtracts features that are too-powerful/footguns (compared to OOP), namely: mutation & side-effects. The language designers should take care of and standardize all the idiomacy (natural modes of expression in the language). "Inside every big ugly language there is a small beautiful language trying to come out." -- sinelaw. The language should assume the developer is an unexperienced, lazy, (immediately) forgetful, and habitual creature. As long as software development is done by mere humans. This assumption sets the bar (the worst case), and is a good principle for DX, as well as UX. The constrained nature of the language should allow for quick learning and proficiency. Complexity should lie in the system and domain, not the language. When the language restricts what can be done, it's easier to understand what was done (a smaller space of possibilities reduces ambiguity and increases predictability, which gives speed for everyone, at a small initial learning cost). The language should avoid Pit of Despair programming, and leave the programmer in the Pit of Success: where its rules encourage you to write correct code in the first place. Inspired by Eric Lippert, but also by Rust.

  • ramda

    :ram: Practical functional Javascript

  • Names: No alias names in the language or standard library, except for in documentation. Inspired by Python ("explicit over implicit", "one way over multiple ways"). Counter-inspired by Perl (postmodern plurality) and aliasing in the Ramda library. All things tend toward disorder, as programmers it is our job to Fight Entropy. The language should favor one consistent vocabulary, since it increases predictability and reduces variability. Even at the cost of expressiveness (the language should afford just enough expressiveness for the domain, see: configurable language, community grown). Names should not mimic any other programming language per se, but attempt to cater to complete beginners, because notation has a large impact on novices, a principle inspired by Quorum. There should be a VS Code plugin that allows people coming from various languages to type function names as they know them and the editor will translate on the fly. E.g. typing in array.filter gets turned into array.keep in the code.

  • quokka

    Repository for Quokka.js questions and issues (by wallabyjs)

  • No need to manipulate data structures in the human mind. Programmer should always be able to see the data structure he/she is working on, at any given time, in the code. Inspired by Bret Victor, and Smalltalk. Ideally with example data, not only the data type. Also, it should be possible to visualise/animate an algorithm. Since "An algorithm has to be seen to be believed", as D.E. Knuth said. It shouldn't be necessary for the programmer to take the effort to visualize it in his mind (with the error-proneness that entails). So the language should make such visualization and code-augmentation easy for tooling to support. But without being a whole isolated universe in its own right like a VM or an isolated image. Counter-inspired by Smalltalk. Some have described this as REPL-driven-development, or interactive-programming. Especially good for debugging: getting the exact program state from loading up an image of it that someone sent you. Inspired by Clojure. But with the ability to see the content of the data structures within your IDE. Inspired by QuokkaJS. The REPL-driven development approach should ideally afford simply changing code in the code editor, detecting the change, and showing the result then and there, without you having to go to back-and-forth to a separate REPL-shell and copy-pasting / retyping code. Inspired by ClojureScript. In fact, since a program is about binding values to the symbols in your code, when running your code, the IDE, enabled by the content-addressable code feature), could replace variables in the text with their bound values, successively. Effectively animating the flow of data through your code. Without you having to go to an external context like a debug window to see the bindings.

  • yarql

    YarQL!! A different approach to making GraphQL servers in Go

  • Explicit imports, so tree-shaking (to remove unused code) can be done. Inspired by JS. Also, so that it is clear where imported functions come from. Counter-inspired by Golang.

  • ts-belt

    🔧 Fast, modern, and practical utility library for FP in TypeScript.

  • Piping, or some form of it. But always top-to-bottom or left-to-right. Inspired by Bash, and functional programming with pipes (Elixir, BuckleScript, and ts-belt). Data-first instead of data-last.

  • InfluxDB

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  • talk-transcripts

    Transcripts of Clojure-related talks

  • Configurable language: Platform config that encapsulate all I/O primitives, which introduces a separation between trusting a particular platform and trusting the language. Inspired by Roc. Could even make certain features of the language only available on certain platforms, i.e. Browser platform doesn't have access to low level memory management. So that the language can be as restrictive as possible for the environment, ensuring that code is written idiomatically for the target platform / environment, since a restricted language has value because for a given platform the programmer would encounter less diversity in the language and thus have less to learn. This strikes a balance between on one hand providing sharp knives as global tools programmers can apply anywhere (i.e. potential footguns, leading to The Pit of Despair like in C++), and on the other hand avoiding being so restrictive that programmers can't talk/write/think about what they want/need to for their given environment. The language itself should be massively configurable: It is not reasonable to assume that the language designers will have accounted for all possible usecases (various memory management strategies etc.). So the language primitives/keywords should be able to be given different underlying effects (e.g. stack vs. heap allocation) based on which platform or use-case is specified (without having to be explicit about every such effect in every environment). But the effects should be inconsequential for the reasonability of the code. Meaning that they should be at the bare-metal performance level, not at the level where operators are overloaded to do something different, cf. our principle that things that are different (i.e. have different effects at the language level the programmer is operating at) should look different. The platform config will depend on which implementation makes most sense for that platform (or use-case?) (i.e. browser webapp vs. systems development, vs. game development, potentially). The language should be configurable by libraries, that will define how it works, and can extend the core to platforms where the programmer needs to think about specific matters to that platform. Inspired by Clojure. The same program specification should be able to have different runtime characteristics on different platforms, depending on the platform configuration. This could be enabled by the programming language concerning itself with modeling causal relationships, instead of place-oriented-programming.

  • ama

    Ask me anything! (by staltz)

  • Gradually typed, as types can add boilerplate, create unnecessary friction, obstruct a programmer's tinkering flow-state, and create noise in the code. Counter-inspired by TypeScript, and inspired by Elm and Jai. As many types as possible should be inferred. Inspired by TypeScript but even more inspired by OCaml and ReScript.

  • language-server-protocol

    Defines a common protocol for language servers.

  • Editor integration: Should afford simple integration into editors/IDEs like VS Code. Typically via the Language Server Protocol (LSP). Inspired by Rust. Syntax highlighting, a language server (for autocomplete, error-checking (diagnostics), jump-to-definition etc.), via the Language Server Protocol (LSP).

  • Immer

    Create the next immutable state by mutating the current one

  • Mutable API: The desirability of a mutable API (mutating objects instead of always having to pass in functions) is inspired by the JS libraries Immer and Valtio. But for algorithms, instead of using the mutable API in an imperative style, it should allow keeping to a functional style, possibly with something akin to Clojure's transients. Alternatively: A mutable context (block scope) could be mandated for mutations (similar to Immer), which could also afford resource cleanup (if we want to avoid having a GC). Inspired by Rust.

  • Carp

    A statically typed lisp, without a GC, for real-time applications.

  • No Garbage-Collector (GC), but also no garbage. Deterministic Object lifetimes, and Ownership tracking (affinity type system). Inspired by Rust and Carp. Alternatively, the language could take inspiration from concatenative programming languages which doesn't generate garbage by design, and uses the stack heavily. Garbage is a symptom of memorizing, which is tedious for the programmer, as well as the compiler, as well as the runtime. Garbage comes when you have to clean up something you memorised (allocated memory for, but somehow stopped using further on). Concatenative programming is closely related to FP through continuation-passing style (CPS) and tail-call optimization (TCO).

  • tool-conventions

    Conventions supporting interoperatibility between tools working with WebAssembly.

  • C ABI: Compatible with the C language Application Binary Interface (ABI). So code in the language is usable from other languages. Inspired by Zig. Since compiling to WASM is desirable, WASM's C ABI could probably be used, instead of a separate implementation towards the C ABI.

  • io-ts

    Runtime type system for IO decoding/encoding

  • Syntax matters: Readability should not imply a one to one match with natural language (counter-inspired by SQL), since natural language is inconsistent, duplicitous, ambivalent and multi-faceted. Consistency is key to a programming language. But it should borrow some similarities from natural language (like its popular Subject-Verb-Object, SVO, structure; see also DFFP) to make adoption easier (more at-hand/intuitive). The SVO syntax also aligns elegantly with the Graph Data model of RDF (subjec-predicate-object triples), and if code-is-data (homoiconicity or pseudo-homoiconicity is preserved) it could be interesting to have the code map well to a graph database, opening up avenues for analysis in the form of advanced graph algorithms, which could be useful for, say, code complexity analysis (e.g. more straightforward cyclomatic complexity analysis). Homoiconicity (code structure mirroring a data structure) could potentially also help with respect to typing, since we want to be able to execute the same code at compile-time (statics) and run-time (dynamics), to avoid the biformity and inconcistency of static languages: "the ideal linguistic abstraction is both static and dynamic; however, it is still a single concept and not two logically similar concepts but with different interfaces." To avoid duplication. This is also inspired by NexusJS and io-ts: "The advantage of using io-ts to define the runtime type is that we can validate the type at runtime, and we can also extract the corresponding static type, so we don’t have to define it twice."

  • crystal

    The Crystal Programming Language

  • Error handling & Nullability: Goal is to eliminate timid coding patterns like null checks everywhere. Counter-inspired by Golang. No implicit null or nil value. Meaning no runtime null errors (typically occurring far removed from their point of inception). Inspired by Elm and Rust. Ideally without having to explicitly declare Maybe aka. Option types (inspired by Hickey's Maybe Not). Could either automatically represent nilable variables as a union between the type and nil, so that the compiler can do null reference checks at compile-time. Inspired by Crystal. Or, automatically but statically infer and create/augment a function's return type to a nullable reference type indicated by a ? after the typename, whenever there is an unhandled condition that could result in a null value. Or automatically create a NullObject (see: NullObject pattern) of the function's declared return type. Maybe even better: let every type declare and handle their own empty state. If all types are defined in terms of Monoids, then null could be replaced by the identity value (of each Monoid), so that combinations within that type never fail, and never alter the result. NB: would make it hard to express something which was supposed to be there but which is missing, like a missing point on a graph curve, instead of plotting a definite 0. So would need careful consideration to choose this approach.

  • Akka

    Build highly concurrent, distributed, and resilient message-driven applications on the JVM

  • Reactive. Inspired by Functional Reactive Programming, and Elm, and The Reactive Manifesto. Though the latter is geared at distributed systems, it could also be a model for local computation (rf. Actor model, and Akka). The programming language should make default and implicit the features of reactivity and streaming, as opposed to preloading and batch processing. (Reactive Streaming Data: Asynchronous non-blocking stream processing with backpressure.)

  • SaaSHub

    SaaSHub - Software Alternatives and Reviews. SaaSHub helps you find the best software and product alternatives

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NOTE: The number of mentions on this list indicates mentions on common posts plus user suggested alternatives. Hence, a higher number means a more popular project.

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