A strong and vibrant IT community based in the North East Of England

Language Wars, a review.

Excellent Networking

Our second meeting held on Monday 25th October went very well, we had over 50 attendees from various demographics (start-ups, programmers, students, academics and enthusiasts).

The event kicked off with a 45 minute networking session where copious amounts of tea and coffee were served courtesy of Paul Watson from Newcastle University. At such an early stage in the ‘Super Mondays’ concept it is important for the various attendees to get together and discuss their common interests.


Over 50 atendees!

After the pleasantries were finished we got down to the business of the evening, Language Wars. This was an opportunity for four local developers to advocate their favourite development language and discuss their relative values. The lineup was:

Mike: PHP
Lee: Ruby
Brian: TCL
Alex: Python



In his speech Mike disussed how a large community and low barriers to adoption were a major advantage of PHP. He felt that language benefits from its lack of structure and that every task can be completed in many-many different ways using a myriad of different functions and modules. Interestingly, it is this proliferation that is also a major negative as due to having no firm coding convention means that it is often hard to support other peoples code.

Lee on Ruby

Lee on Ruby

Lee gave a great introduction to Ruby, its Japanese roots, early adoption in the East and migration to Western countries. Lee felt that Ruby had advantage over PHP because its code structure is very structured, leading to easily maintainable code. The advent of the Rails framework has helped to drive adoption of Ruby and it is gaining interest from mature PHP developers and perl developers. In the general discussion it was felt that while Ruby was rather processor intensive (perhaps in comparison to perl, PHP etc) it was agred that the cost benefit of rapid development and easily maintainable code was a major advantage.

Brian gave an excellent introduction to Tcl (“Tool Command Language”,  pronounced as “tickle”). Starting in 1998, the language was born out of frustration with programmers devising their own (poor quality) languages intended to be embedded into applications. It quickly gained wide acceptance on its own and is generally thought to be easy to learn  but powerful in competent hands. It is most commonly used for rapid prototyping, scripted applications, GUIs and testing.

Alex listening....
Alex listening….

Alex spoke on behalf of Python, a general-purpose, high-level programming language. Its design philosophy emphasizes programmer productivity and code readability. The language has an extensive use of whitespace as block delimiters which leads to programmers producing code that is often generally easy to ready and subsequently easy to maintain.

Unfortunately, the event was very friendly and cordial! Each speaker advocated the adoption of a language as a function of the needs and skills of the project…not the technology. The general consensus was that languages need to have a large community adoption for them to grow and continually evolve.

The event was closed off at around 8:00 with a quick disussion around future events and how participation on the message board is essential to help build a strong and long living community. A special thank you to Shuoling for taking photos and publishing them.


  1. […] Mike used an example of a website that he developed in 45 minutes to demonstrate how easy it is to develop using Drupal and the CCK, Panels, Five Star and Views modules. This was Mikes second presentation to SuperMondays. […]