Making a Living in Languages (Redux) part 2: Every Application Architecture Has Plenty of Languages

Last time: “What Do Buyers Want?,” in which I said that employers want specialists in technologies, which doesn’t really help the employers solve problems.
Now: Where does that leave us? Where’s the language vendor in this picture? Where does the language guru go?

[This is an excerpt from a Lisp conference talk I gave in 2002.]

So, if you are looking for a job, you know what you have to do. For a given application architecture, figure out what tools will be demanded four or five years from now, and acquire that much paid experience using them. That can be tricky, because less than 4-5 years ago, the list for our bank application example would have been radically different.

But, if you’re a true language geek, you should be ecstatic about all the different languages you’ll get to use in the course of a typical n-tier project:

General purpose languages (sort of) include: C++, Java, C#, JavaScript, Perl

W3C happy-land includes: HTML, XML, XSLT, Xpath, CSS, SVG

The data level requires: SQL, Oracle stored procedures, LDAP, RDF

Application servers use their own languages: JSP, ASP, PHP, ColdFusion, DHTML, CGI

Special domains require one additional language such as: Flash, VB for MS-xxx, Powerbuilder, Siebel, SAS

Design tools have their own modeling languages: UML, ClearCase

Component architectures have their own language for describing the metadata that glues everything together: EJB, COM, CORBA/IDL, WSDL

The tools and services each have their own configuration language: for Apache, SiteMinder, UDDI, etc.

Well clearly there’s room for languages work, but where are the language products hiding?

next: Hidden Special Purpose Languages.
Start of nine part series.

About Stearns

Howard Stearns works at High Fidelity, Inc., creating the metaverse. Mr. Stearns has a quarter century experience in systems engineering, applications consulting, and management of advanced software technologies. He was the technical lead of University of Wisconsin's Croquet project, an ambitious project convened by computing pioneer Alan Kay to transform collaboration through 3D graphics and real-time, persistent shared spaces. The CAD integration products Mr. Stearns created for expert system pioneer ICAD set the market standard through IPO and acquisition by Oracle. The embedded systems he wrote helped transform the industrial diamond market. In the early 2000s, Mr. Stearns was named Technology Strategist for Curl, the only startup founded by WWW pioneer Tim Berners-Lee. An expert on programming languages and operating systems, Mr. Stearns created the Eclipse commercial Common Lisp programming implementation. Mr. Stearns has two degrees from M.I.T., and has directed family businesses in early childhood education and publishing.

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