[FoRK] The collapse of the .net ecosystem

J. Andrew Rogers andrew at jarbox.org
Sat Jun 20 22:04:00 PDT 2015

> On Jun 20, 2015, at 2:10 PM, Stephen D. Williams <sdw at lig.net> wrote:
> What Unicorn, hot startup, or really any startup that you respect, is using C# (outside of Unity)?

There are more startups using C# in their core infrastructure than you would think, including large ones, just not in Silicon Valley due to Silicon Valley’s UNIX-centric history and relative lack of B2B and ecommerce focus. There is no real downside for most startups to using C# if the team knows it well since it minimizes cost and execution risk. The choice of language isn’t that important unless you are doing something that requires atypical scale, efficiency, or resource intensity. 

> Android has strengthened Java, which still also has wide use/support in cloud and enterprise computing.  It's being challenged by Go, Javascript, Python, etc., although apparently server-side C++ just can't get respect.  I'd be interested in Qt+C++11 myself for server side dev, but for a few reasons, splitting web apps between Node & Go, with specific subsystems in Java / Python / C++, seems promising right now.

What do you mean by “server-side C++”? 

C++11 has completely replaced Java for a lot of new development on the server over the last five years. In a similar reversal of fortune Java may end up being the client-side language it always wanted to be, thanks to Android.

LLVM is an overlooked part of the C++ resurgence story. LLVM is increasingly being used to do all sorts of dynamic runtime compilation within C++ code bases to the point where it is on its way to becoming a standard architecture pattern. You get much of the expressiveness of dynamic languages but with runtime performance similar to C++. Along with C++11/14, it greatly increases the elegance of many C++ code bases. Without LLVM, many of the use cases that are currently making C++ irreplaceable would be difficult to implement.

> Python, it has pockets where it seems strong (math/HPC/ML), and other areas where it seems failed (client apps or web apps client or server).  There are various other niches.  But for the best architectural and technological ideas and tools, where is the momentum and acceleration going?

Python is still incredibly strong as a scripting and analytics language, which is a pretty broad set of use cases. I run into it everywhere with no sign of slowing down. Nothing else is sufficiently better that I would expect it to take over. Not a terrible outcome, far worse languages have become de facto standards (e.g. Javascript).

> In 1998 or so, I had a Linux vs. BSD discussion with a friend who was a BSD contributor.  He was certain that BSD was better for various reasons, better security, TCP stack, etc.  Sure, probably is, I allowed, but it didn't matter: Linux had momentum and acceleration of that momentum that nothing was going to match. Various network effects of the people that count, openness of gathering and refining the best ideas, Linus driving, and companies left out of other avenues were converging around the right ideals, principles, and culture of common cause.

The reasons were much more pragmatic and path dependent. Linux ultimately succeeded *because* BSD became the free server operating system of choice for the web because it was performant and bulletproof. Consequently, development of BSD was conservative because it was important that no one broke it. Like with most critical infrastructure software, you are limited in practice to incremental upgrades even when forklift upgrades would radically improve capabilities. You can’t risk breaking the code base. PostgreSQL is an example of a great code base that is chronically hamstrung by the necessity of incrementalism in the open source version. 

During those early years, Linux benefitted greatly from the HPC community using Linux as a test bed for a lot of experimentation with high-scale systems because it was possible to hack in some unusual or exotic capabilities without someone invoking the Precautionary Principle. Fast forward a decade and all systems start to look “high-scale”, at which point those capabilities were mature in Linux because they’d been there and hacked on for years. 

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