Saturn?

As I mentioned in my last post, I’ve started work on a new implementation of neptune. Even though Esmertec Denmark has been closed down it didn’t mean that the language died, not as such. What it meant was that an implementation of the language died. Now that I have some time off I might as well write a new one.

Will the new implementation be exactly the same as the old one? Not exactly, no. Now that there’s no marketing aspect I’ll take the opportunity to try out a few things. One clear difference is that concurrency control will be based on a transactional memory model. I’ve experimented with changing the syntax a little, for instance allowing -, ?, ! and such in identifiers and method names but in the end I decided against that. There will probably be “real” dynamic privacy. There will definitely be tail call optimization and full closures. But the plan is to otherwise stay close to the original language. There’s a very good reason for that. I know myself: if I’m completely free to design a language I get stuck before I even begin with theoretical issues such as “what is a method name, really?” and “how can I unify instance variables and local variables?”. So to get any work done at all I’ll have to stick with what we already have except for adding a few well-understood mechanisms.

I don’t know if this language will ever get anywhere. I have no world domination plans, so far I’m just doing this because I enjoy implementing programming languages. Of course I do hope that at some point there will be room in the world for a statically typed object-oriented language that is not C++, Java or C#. Otherwise I’m afraid the next few decades of my career will be something of a disappointment.

By the way, if you feel like contributing or just taking a look at how things are going, neplang at sourceforge is open for business.

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