What killed Smalltalk could kill Python

Tim Daneliuk tundra at tundraware.com
Mon Jan 26 21:18:40 CET 2015

On 01/23/2015 04:57 PM, Chris Angelico wrote:
> On Sat, Jan 24, 2015 at 9:51 AM, Tim Daneliuk <tundra at tundraware.com> wrote:
>> On 01/21/2015 05:55 PM, Chris Angelico wrote:
>>> On Thu, Jan 22, 2015 at 10:37 AM, Tim Daneliuk <tundra at tundraware.com> wrote:
>>>> I find these kinds of discussions sort of silly.  Once there is a critical
>>>> mass of installed base, no language EVER dies.
>>> Not sure about that. Back in the 1990s, I wrote most of my code in
>>> REXX, either command-line or using a GUI toolkit like VX-REXX. Where's
>>> REXX today? Well, let's see. It's still the native-ish language of
>>> OS/2. Where's OS/2 today? Left behind. REXX has no Unicode support (it
>>> does, however, support DBCS - useful, no?), no inbuilt networking
>>> support (there are third-party TCP/IP socket libraries for OS/2 REXX,
>>> but I don't know that other REXX implementations have socket services;
>>> and that's just basic BSD sockets, no higher-level protocol handling
>>> at all), etc, etc. Sure, it's not technically dead... but is anyone
>>> developing the language further? I don't think so. Is new REXX code
>>> being written? Not a lot. Yet when OS/2 was more popular, REXX
>>> definitely had its installed base. It was the one obvious scripting
>>> language for any OS/2 program. Languages can definitely die, or at
>>> least be so left behind that they may as well be dead.
>>> ChrisA
>> Rexx is still well used on mainframes.
> Oh, is it? Cool! Maybe some day I'll be interviewing for a job, and
> they'll ask if I know REXX.. and I'll actually be able to say yes. :)
> ChrisA

Let me first note for the record that I make my living on *NIX type
systems.  So, my comments below are not bound to my personal technical
religion ...

I work in and among some of the larger corporations on the planet and I
have a little secret for you:  Mainframes are NOT going away wholesale.
As the population of mainframe-savvy staff dwindles into retirement,
one of the hottest tickets you're going to see in the next 20 years
is people who can do that work.  It's so bad, that IBM themselves are
working to train the next generation of MVS systems programmers, and
the like.

And no, you can't just replace mainframes with open systems equivalents.
There are likely hundreds of millions of lines of COBOL and assembler
code that cannot just be ported over to a new platform and language.
Why?  Because there is an ecosystem of support in the mainframe world
that is utterly absent in the *NIX/Windoze world.   This includes things
especially like CICS, IMS (ask Caterpillar if they'll stop using it ;),
DB2 and so forth.

So, yes, if you're mainframe savvy, you may have a nice consulting career
in your old age :)

Tim Daneliuk     tundra at tundraware.com
PGP Key:         http://www.tundraware.com/PGP/

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