The A-Z of Programming Languages: Shakespeare

Jon Aslund and Karl Wiberg open up about the all-nighter they pulled to create their programming language, Shakespeare

Where do you think computer languages will be heading in the next 5 – 20 years or so? Can you see any big trends forming?

K: One possibility is that one or more SPL-inspired languages become dominant in the industry, radically changing the way software is written and lifting programmer improductivity (sic) to previously unthought-of levels. Expect a total economic collapse soon thereafter, and the end of US global cultural dominance as other countries ban English in self-defence.

Another possibility is a continuation of the current trend of mainstream languages slowly but surely adopting ideas that have been in Lisp for fifty years. Additionally, we keep adding layers of indirection between the programmer and the hardware; with web apps, the stack has grown impressively deep, and I can only assume it's going to grow deeper yet.

Given your experience, what advice do you have for students or up and coming programmers?

K: It's a huge advantage to enjoy what you do for a living. Specifically, if you're going to do programming for a living, the fact that you enjoy it enough that inventing your own programming language still seems like fun after you're halfway through is a good sign.

Have you ever seen the language used in a way that wasn't originally intended?

I don't think we ever envisioned that someone would make live performances of SPL programs.

Finally, where do you envisage Shakespeare's future lying?

K: Let's just say I think he'll continue to be remembered as a playwright first, and as the inspiration for an esoteric programming language a close second.

Follow Chloe Herrick on Twitter: @chloe_CW

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