I’ve received several emails as a response to my interview with Bruce Tate on Ruby. People keep mentioning features of the language that will help Ruby to become a mainstream language. But they usually forget the most important thing for the adoption of any language: the proper marketing. Just being a good language does not cut it. Java may be not the best language in the world, but it’s the best marketed language, while Ruby was not. The fact that ROR guys keep consistently shaking the boat have resulted in some adoption of the language, which is pretty impressive given that fact that ROR was not backed up or funded by such a giant as Sun Microsystems.
On the similar note, there is a lot of noise about AJAX, which has the same result: there is some adoption of this technology in the industry already. There is also a bunch of AJAX frameworks of beta quality out there, and one serious framework from Google called GWT, which can help AJAX survive for a while.
Adobe’s Flex 2 is yet another interesting player in the Web application development arena. This technology is of a professional quality, and I hope that Adobe will be able to make it appealing to the masses of the enterprise developers, which is the most important group of programmers. If a language is in demand in the enterprise IT shops, there are jobs out there. If there are jobs, people will study and use it.
Recently, I’ve been interviewing a project manager – a job applicant. I’ve asked him, “If you are starting a new IT project and can chose a programming language/platform to be used, what would it be and why “? He said Java/J2EE, beause there is a large pool of Java programmers to staff the project, and there are tons of third-party frameworks that can solve literally any task that may come up along the way.
Is English the best language in the world? Absolutely not. But it’s the most widely used language, and people learn it for pragmatic reasons without falling in love with it. As a matter of fact, these days lots of people around the world hate USA and Great Britain, but they study English anyway, because they like CNN, MTV, Playboy, computer books, shopping, and jobs available in these countries.
So all these new programming languages must reach some critical mass of followers, and the rest will happen automatically… if the language/tool is as good as promised.