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I am starting to arrive at my own conclusion to language power which is that if you already know the "$1,000,000 concepts" embedded in the language, the only things the language itself offers above that are dev environment and ecosystem improvements - better debugging features and tools, more libraries, more solutions to corner case problems, platform deployment options, etc.

So features that are mostly implementation-dependent, like incremental development, static type checking, contracts, CPAN/gem/easy_install type code repositories, reference books and mailing list discussions, etc. are the things that give a language value. Exposing powerful key concepts(like common data structures, garbage collection, reflection, macro systems...) directly through the language is also a win but not something impossible to work around.

To paraphrase a oft-abused quote, "every sufficiently complex program contains a Lisp." But that doesn't mean the conclusion is "start with Lisp, since you'll end up with one anyway." It may be that Ruby (for example) has a really cool library you want to use for a core part of your app, so you start writing the code in Ruby, and things are good and you make progress....and once you come across a problem requiring Lisp-type power, just by knowing how the solution would work in Lisp, you can usually devise a worse-is-better 80% solution that is right for your specific application. The final result may not be beautiful or pure, but it lets you do things incrementally without the up-front misgivings of "it would have saved so much time to start in Ruby..."

tl;dr: Learn languages to learn concepts, but build applications in an "environmentally-friendly" way. Perceived "potential power" is not a good reason to sweat and strain to build apps in your favorite language when you could go over to the current "industry standard" and save yourself months of effort.

On the other hand, nobody has an omniscient view of all languages and environments, hence people tend to stick with what they know....




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