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Bill Gates Surprised Programming Not Simplified

theodp (442580) writes | about a year and a half ago

Microsoft 2

theodp (442580) writes "Answering questions about everything from his favorite book (The Better Angels of our Nature) to his favorite band (Weezer) to the Microsoft product he wished made it to the market (WinFS), Bill Gates hosted a Reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything) Monday morning. Asked if he still codes, Gates responded, 'Not as much as I would like to. I write some C, C# and some Basic. I am surprised new languages have not made more progress in simplifying programming." So, is Bill right (Exhibit A: old-school Microsoft BASIC vs. newfangled Google GO), or are there other new languages he should check out?"

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2 comments

I'm not surprised (2)

narcc (412956) | about a year and a half ago | (#42869287)

If a language is simple and, consequently, easy to learn and use, it WILL be demonized.

Too many programmers are depressingly insecure. They WANT programming to be as difficult as possible -- if learning to program were as simple as it was in the 80's, they wouldn't be special. They've got a lot of their ego wrapped up in a single skill that they *know* any kid can learn in their spare time.

Let's take VB, for example. It's certainly received more that it's fair share of hate over the years. What, exactly, was wrong with it?

"It didn't have some specific feature!" - Okay, but that's true of every language..

"It forced you to write bad code!" - No, you did that all on your own.

"Beginners used it, forcing me to maintain their crap code!" - Do you know who writes bad code? Everyone. Take a look at your own work from a few years back. I guarantee that you'll find a few WTFs.

The truth is tha there wasn't really anything wrong with VB. It worked incredibly well for a broad range of common tasks. For hacking out CRUD apps, it's still unmatched. It was ridiculously easy to use, of course, which would normally be an admirable quality. In the hands of an experienced programmer, it could save countless hours of effort. So why all the hate?

The fact is that insecure programmers hate VB because it's easy to learn and use. So easy, in fact, that people who weren't programmers could use it. That's a HUGE threat to the one-skill-wonders. (They're easy to spot. They're the ones who follow every ridiculous programming fad that comes down the pike.)

If anyone can learn to write computer programs then they can no longer believe that they're above average or have "a special mind". They won't be special or interesting, they'll just be another nobody. They know that they're not smart or ambitious enough to hack math, science, or engineering. However, programming, a skill they picked-up when they were pre-teens, puts them in the same class as those other professionals in the eyes of friends, family, and the lay-public. It makes them feel important.

They don't want to face the truth. That's why they vigorously fight against any tool that comes along that could possibly threaten their delusion.

That's why programming isn't getting easier. I'd argue that it's actually become more difficult. Not because we're doing more complicated things -- this is especially the average developer writing business software. It's become more complicated because developers WANT their tools to become more complex. They need to maintain that priesthood.

There is no money in simplicity (1)

justthinkit (954982) | about a year and a half ago | (#42875375)

Why does every product now have a zillion models? From laptops to modems, printer to whatever, every manufacturer makes sure to crank out an ever-increasing number of models. Incompatible models.
.

The reason is that a tyranny of models is a form of obsolescence. Support becomes a hassle with a plethora of models. A new model of what is basically the same product now does not come with a Win7 driver. Bing, you have to move to Win8. Kaching.

So, languages are driven by compilers. Compilers have to run on an ever-increasing number of models of computer, CPUs, graphics cards, etc.

Complexity drives profit. Simplicity is suicide. Hence, no simple compilers...i.e. languages.

All of this makes it slightly hilarious that BG can't quite explain why we don't have simple languages. His company is at the forefront of versionitis, a word that the slash does not like, despite being listed here [wiktionary.org] . "Dang, we can't quite make simple products you never need to upgrade. Fiddlesticks."

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