Quite interesting information.

I specialized in Pick Systems, which I found very
practical (1), although there are lots of lacks in it.
Now it turned to be old (1968), so I have to requalify
on something else, and I'm very puzzled. In former
times I also used Cobol and PL/I (all for business
applications, of course, not for linguistics). I never
had to use C++.

So I'm trying to find advices on the very many new
languages appearing everywhere, most of them as
freeware. I bought a book about Perl, looks powerful
but nearly unreadable. I really wondered about Perl
philosophy: what can be the use of saving a few
keyboard hits if you lose 100x more time trying to
decipher program sources ? It's very irrational to me.
Anyway, I hadn't yet finished reading the book when I
was warned that Perl was declining and that by now I
should learn PHP, or Python, or whatever. Some tell me
of MySQL, others of Zope or Java and many more exotic
and more or less confidential things.

I wonder. Really mastering any language needs at least
a few months practice. So this is not a neglectible
investment, in time as in money. And if the language
gets outfashioned after 2 or 3 years, you have to
start (nearly) everything from zero again. What about
productivity ?

As to indentations, I was happy to know that Python
uses them for structure. I ALWAYS used indentations in
every program I wrote, be it in Cobol, PL/1 or Pick
Basic, but of course, this was all self-discipline,
the compiler didn't bother about that. I just cannot
conceive a not-indented program source: I would simply
refuse to maintain it. And it's true that Lisp
brackets are not very readable neither.

As for Ruby, this is the first time I hear that

Now I have to learn PL/SQL, as I'll have to work on
Oracle databases. Probably not too hard. But my main
question is: What the hell should I learn 1/ to keep
productive in my job; 2/ to be able to develop my own
applications (about linguistics, one way or another),
and not having to throw everything overboard in six
months and start from zero again ???

(1) One of the main Pick particularities is that the
whole system uses a 3-dimensional data structure. You
use instructions like: X = MYTAB<I,J,K>, or MYTAB =
INSERT(MYTAB,I,3,(NB*2);"myvalue"), "MYTAB" being a
"dynamic array" (handled by low-level routines). This
is unlike standard databases, like Oracle, which use
only columns and rows. There are also very few limits
in Pick. But one problem is that you have to cope with
standard delimiters (char(255) = end-of-file,
char(254) = end-of-attribute, char(253) =
end-of-value, char(252) = end of subvalue).

--- "Mark J. Reed" <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> Python wasn't the first language to use indentation
> for structure, btw. [snip lots of information]

Philippe Caquant

"High thoughts must have high language." (Aristophanes, Frogs)

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