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16. PostScript > Interfaces to Longevity

Interfaces to Longevity

How can a designer think about longevity for a general programming language? Are there specific steps to take?

John: A lot of languages go after a specific problem. Remember the one Atkinson did, HyperCard. He made what I would believe is the most common mistake that people make and that’s not to make it a full programming language. You have to have control, you have to have branching, you have to have looping, you have to have all the mathematics and everything that makes up a full programming language or else you’ll hit a brick wall at some point in the future.

People would look at us and say, “Why are you putting in all the trig functions? What are you going to use those for?”—and they all got used. An important thing in language design is at the outset recognize that it’s got to be complete. You’ve got to have access to the filesystem. You’ve got to have all kinds of stuff to make it complete. I think that’s really important.


  

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