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The BETA Programming Language (au.dk)
59 points by adgasf 10 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 18 comments

An oversimplified story is that BETA is the response from the creators of SIMULA (arguably the first object-oriented language) to the languages it inspired (e.g., Smalltalk and C++). More here: [1]

There are some interesting and unique concepts in BETA, but IIRC the most interesting is the "pattern":

>The abstraction mechanisms include class, procedure, function, coroutine, process, exception and many more, all unified into the ultimate abstraction mechanism: the pattern. In addition to the pattern, BETA has subpattern, virtual pattern and pattern variable. This unification gives a uniform treatment of abstraction mechanisms and a number of new ones. Most object-oriented languages have classes, subclasses and virtual procedures, and some have procedure variables. Since a pattern is a generalization of abstraction mechanisms like class, procedure, function, etc., the notions of subpattern, virtual pattern and pattern variable also apply to these abstraction mechanisms. In addition to the above mentioned abstraction mechanisms, the pattern subsumes notions such as generic package and task type as known from Ada.

[1] http://kristennygaard.org/FORSKNINGSDOK_MAPPE/F_BETA_hovedsi...

As I learned on a trip to Denmark years ago, BETA remains relevant because of the students who worked on it[1], many of whom have gone on to do important work in languages and virtual machines. Don't be surprised to see some of their nostalgia should they happen to spot this thread!

[1] http://dtrace.org/blogs/bmc/2012/10/08/a-systems-software-do...

Curious if anyone finds this language pretty to look at, a lot of punctuation :/

http://cs.au.dk/~beta/doc/beta-intro/Quick-Reference-Card.ht... http://cs.au.dk/~beta/BETAbookExamples/BETAbookCode.html

    (# Heavy: ^Syntax; 
    --- there must be another way ---
    --- and use spaces ---

Only needs a few tweaks to be valid strict/warnings compliant Perl :)

  (# Heavy: ^Syntax; 
  do {
  ;sub NotBeautiful{};sub ToLookAt{}
  ;sub PleaseRemove{};sub AllThoseRandomCharacters{}

it does seem a little harsh on the eyes - especially relative to something like python.

that said, I've heard similar arguments about lack of beauty strongly typed languages ..especially in the mid 2000s when the pendulum seemed to be on opposite end of its swing.

sooo. I dunno - probably best to look at what kinds of things can be done with this tool effectively relative to other tools that could be used. I can do A LOT with my circular saw, but there are many cases where reciprocating saw is a better idea.

Edit: I used to write a lot of C code - and for the longest time turned up my nose at that "toy scripting language : javascript." Then a buddy who I respected set me straight in terms of it being a "real language" which coincided with the very early days of node.js. This also led me to dive into python .. after years of ignoring another guy who said it was pure joy. now I take a totally different view of languages that show up on the radar (although I'm still having a hard time grokking rust).

Thanks. I was traying to find an example of a program in the site, but I couldn't. Your second link was very useful.

I can say I don't find the example all that nice. That said, every language has its style guide — and its people who come up with a nicer style than the original team envisioned.

I don't know if this language could have a nicer style just because of the punctuation — it's everywhere! But still, it may be possible.

Time to take another look...

...hey, for loops that take just a single integer and implicitly loop from 1. Interesting.

Just checked my (Objective-)C loops, and of the 500 with

   for (i=  
440 start with

   for (i=0;

That's 88%. So looping on integers that implicitly forms a range starting from 0 seems like a reasonable addition for Objective-Smalltalk. "Looping" is already defined as higher order functions on collections and ranges, so all we need to do is map the number to the appropriate range and done.

      [[@(0) to:[self sub:@(1)]] do:aBlock];
Try it out:

   > 4 do:[ :i | stdout println:i ]
Nice. Thank you, BETA!

A much better object oriented language than C++. I was not fond of its syntax but liked its uniform treatment of a number of different abstract mechanisms via “patterns”.

Heh, back in the 90s I designed a DSL for programming mobile robots called ALFA. It was an acronym: A Language For Action. I had planned to design a follow up language called BETA: Better Even Than ALFA. But it never happened, and now I've been scooped. Oh well.

Inspired by ZWEI?

EINE is a recursive acronym for "EINE Is Not Emacs", and ZWEI follows this pattern as an acronym for "ZWEI Was Eine Initially".


> and now I've been scooped

It was first released in 1992

You could go the other way with BRAVO

I could make it the same language: Bravo Recapitulates ALFA Very Overtly :-)

I own the language reference, which I got as gift for attending ECOOP'99 in Lisbon.

The language is quite powerful, sadly its concepts never managed to get into mainstream.

Is this "Object oriented programming in the beta programming language" by Madsen, Møller-Pedersen & Nygaard? ISBN-0201624303. It's available online now.


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