What Makes Some Programming Languages the ‘Most Dreaded’?


    O’Reilly media’s Vice President of Content Strategy (also the coauthor of Unix Power Tools) recently explored why several popular programming languages wound up on the “most dreaded” list in StackOverflow’s annual developer survey: There’s no surprise that VBA is #1 disliked language. I’ll admit to complete ignorance on Objective C (#2), which I’ve never had any reason to play with. Although I’m a Perl-hater from way back, I’m surprised that Perl is so widely disliked (#3), but some wounds never heal. It will be interesting to see what happens after Perl 7 has been out for a few years. Assembly (#4) is an acquired taste (and isn’t a single language)… But he eventually suggests that both C and Java might be on the list simply because they have millions of users, citing a quote from C++ creator Bjarne Stroustrup: “there are only two kinds of languages: the ones people complain about and the ones nobody uses.” Dislike of a language may be “guilt by association”: dislike of a large, antiquated codebase with minimal documentation, and an architectural style in which every bug fixed breaks something else. Therefore, it’s not surprising to see languages that used to be widely used but have fallen from popularity on the list… Java has been the language people love to hate since its birth. I was at the USENIX session in which James Gosling first spoke about Java (way before 1.0), and people left the room talking about how horrible Java was — none of whom had actually used the language because it hadn’t been released yet… If there’s one language on this list that’s associated with gigantic projects, it’s Java. And there are a lot of things to dislike about it — though a lot of them have to do with bad habits that grew up around Java, rather than the language itself. If you find yourself abusing design patterns, step back and look at what you’re doing; making everything into a design pattern is a sign that you didn’t understand what patterns are really for… If you start writing a FactoryFactoryFactory, stop and take a nice long walk. If you’re writing a ClassWithAReallyLongNameBecauseThatsHowWeDoIt, you don’t need to. Java doesn’t make you do that… I’ve found Java easier to read and understand than most other languages, in part because it’s so explicit — and most good programmers realize that they spend more time reading others’ code than writing their own. He also notes that Python only rose to #23 on the “most dreaded” languages list, speculating developers may appreciation its lack of curly braces, good libraries, and Jupyter notebooks. “Python wins the award for the most popular language to inspire minimal dislike. It’s got a balanced set of features that make it ideal for small projects, and good for large ones.” “And what shall we say about JavaScript, sixteenth on the list? I’ve got nothing. It’s a language that grew in a random and disordered way, and that programmers eventually learned could be powerful and productive… A language that’s as widely used as JavaScript, and that’s only 16th on the list of most dreaded languages, is certainly doing something right. But I don’t have to like it.” Read more of this story at Slashdot.


    Please enter your comment!
    Please enter your name here