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In-House Languages
7 points by jowdones 11 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 6 comments
Godwin's law: "As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches 100%".

Godwin's law for programmers: "As software development grows longer, the probability of emergence of an improvised in-house scripted language (as bad as Nazis or Hitler) approaches 100%".

I worked for a company around 2009 where the founder wrote his own bespoke VB like programming environment - IDE, PC emulator, bytecode VM, compiler for ruggedized Windows CE devices used for field services.

The company was founded around 1996. I assume he wrote it because there was no easy way to develop for Win CE back then except for C++/MFC. It did allow the company to hire a lot of cheap developers from well known but not well respected private colleges.

The same code could also be used for the back end supporting services, but he did at least add support for COM interop on the server so we could use any language to actually do the heavy lifting.

They pushed him out around 2011 and I was the only old guy that knew anything about C++/MFC and assembly to maintain it until the company folded.

If you're interesting on why homegrown languages can be interesting, I'd recommend "The Rise & Fall of Software Recipes" (1). The book is more of a softeng memoir than an argument piece, but it has some very interesting examples of home-grown languages (& dev environments).

(1) https://www.dariusblasband.com/

I present you an in-house language Yahoo used around year 2000: https://gist.github.com/simonwistow/3919291 Working with it got hard after the developer who maintained it quit.

I've seen (and still use to a small extent) a templating language like that. The real exciting thing is the documentation! There is none, so you scrape through the existing codebase to find one that is doing the sort of thing you want to do and copy it

Doesn't help that the interpreter for it was not written in a language we use and it is stuck on a particular version due to some bytecode libraries we don't have the source to

That is the single worst looking syntax I have ever seen. How did they manage to do any significant amount of development instead of just bug hunting? IDE support?

Nothing like that. Also no functions or blocks. Brackets worked different than listed in the documentation sometimes. Lots of whitespace and escaping issues. Unhelpful error messages. We had to invent a mini-template system to stitch together the final big file (and be able to add comments for us without then appearing in the final document). Forgetting to close an if statement meant going through thousands of lines of non-intended code.

It was developed around 1996 I think. Replaced with PHP when Yahoo hired Rasmus Lerdorf.

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