Re: Type System as Design Tool [Was: We do not use C++ exceptions]

Andrei Alexandrescu <>
Mon, 9 Mar 2009 05:10:59 CST
Peter Dimov wrote:

On Mar 7, 7:03 am, Andrei Alexandrescu <>

Peter Dimov wrote:


(For the record, Java and most Microsoft products have also suffered
from "market failure" claims; there the argument is that success is
determined by marketing rather by technical qualities. It's equally
wrong. Technical merits override marketing in the medium to long

But the parenthesis doesn't quite rhyme with the rest. Clearly marketing
does influence the success of any product and is rather distinct from
product's technical merit. So it all depends on how broadly you define
success: (a) bottom-line success (in terms of shipped units/installed
base/etc), in which case the entity that achieved it is commendable and
there's little else to discuss; (b) success as influenced by various
factors, which is much more subtle.

Let's take one hypothetical Java vs C++ case as an example. In a
particular year, 30 new financial service backend projects are started
in C++, 70 in Java. This initial allocation is strongly influenced by
marketing. After a certain period, we can measure the completeness,
defect rate and performance of the 100 backends. (More importantly, so
will the market.) If the ration of "successful" projects is not 30:70,
we can conclude that one of the languages is "better" than the other,
and that companies using this language will have a competitive
advantage. Over time, this will drive the market share of the other
language down, and marketing will no longer be able to influence the
Java/C++ allocation.

I wish it were that simple. But it's all a dialectic mesh. There are
influences in e.g. teaching resource availability, books, programmer
attraction toward one language vs. another, scale of library development
etc. I have no idea where Java would have been without Sun's marketing
behind it, or where C++ would have been with more marketing behind it,
but I have very little reason to believe it would be quite in the same
place as it actually is, or that it would be asymptotically converging
towards that place. Note that marketing could actually work both ways,
e.g. according to an acquaintance of mine who's a recruiter, there are
"no bad C++ programmers left - they all went to other languages". Very
interesting :o). So it's all very complex, and I don't buy your
argument, which applies to a very artificial setup.


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