Saturday, August 22, 2009

Think twice before naming your new programming language

Smart people invent new programming languages, with powerful features, that perform really well. What else do we need?

When you want to learn and use these new programming languages, you might want to buy books or to search for tutorials, code examples, blog articles, etc.

There comes the name: you might have plenty of good reasons for choosing a certain name for your programming language, but before deciding on it please think about people who are willing to use it.

I am one of those: recently, I am learning the Factor and J programming languages, or I should say "I am trying to learn". I suppose that you can imagine my frustration when I try to search for information using Google, or for books using Amazon.

Just think about what kind of results you will get when looking for something related to Factor on Google...

Of course you could tell me that there is the Factor documentation. But I don't want to limit myself to the official documentation: I want to read books if they exist, I want to read code snippets shared by other people, I want to read blog posts, search on GitHub (Factor is not registered yet), and the reality is that I just can't. This is so frustrating, especially for language such as J, which are even more difficult to search for, and I don't need to explain you why...

Some work have been done to make C and C++ easy to search on the internet, but nothing yet for J yet. I think the same goes for R, and if I read this wiki page, it seems that I could quote almost the whole alphabet!

So please, I beg you, the next time you create a great programming language such as Factor or J, think carefully about a name that will be easy to search for on the internet. Do not use a one-character or two-character name, only use characters from the Latin alphabet, do not use a common word, and just make it as unique as possible.