[Haskell-cafe] Channel9 Interview: Software Composability and the Future of Languages

Neil Bartlett neil at integility.com
Fri Jan 26 12:13:43 EST 2007

No doubt many of you will have seen the interview[1] on Channel9 with
Anders Hejlsberg, Herb Sutter, Erik Meijer and Brian Beckman. These are
some of Microsoft's top language gurus, and they discuss the future
evolution of programming languages. In particular they identify
composability, concurrency and FP as being important trends. However their
focus is on borrowing features of FP and bringing them into mainstream
imperative languages; principally C#.

Naturally the subject of Haskell comes up repeatedly throughout the
interview. Disappointingly they characterize Haskell as being an
impractical language, only useful for research. Erik Meijer at one point
states that programming in Haskell is too hard and compares it to assembly
programming! Yet the interviewees continually opine on the difficulty of
creating higher level abstractions when you can never be sure that a
particular block of imperative code is free of side effects. If there were
ever a case of the answer staring somebody in the face...

I found this interview fascinating but also exasperating. It's a real
shame that no reference was made to STM in Haskell. I don't know why the
interviewer doesn't even refer to the earlier Channel9 interview with
Simon Peyton Jones and Tim Harris - it appears to be the same interviewer.
Still, it's nice to see that ideas from Haskell specifically and FP
generally are gaining more and more ground in the mainstream programming
world. It also highlights some of the misconceptions that still exist and
need to be challenged, e.g. the idea that Haskell is too hard or is
impractical for real work.

[1] http://channel9.msdn.com/Showpost.aspx?postid=273697

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