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Why We Need More Programming Languages

Dec 10, 2011, 18:06 (7 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Neil McAllister)

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"Take PHP, for example. The next version of the popular Web applications language shipped its second release candidate this week, and the final build is expected to arrive early next year. This release won't be the long-awaited PHP 6, however. Instead, it will be a far less ambitious revision designated PHP 5.4.

"Doubtless that's a disappointment to developers who have been anticipating PHP 6 since the project launched in October 2005. But at this point, even if a release dubbed PHP 6 does eventually appear, it will bear little resemblance to the version that's borne the designation so far. PHP creator Rasmus Lerdorf officially shelved the PHP 6 project in March 2010 after almost five years of fruitless labor, in favor of refocusing on a formal 5.4 release.

"Some of the reasons for the PHP 6 effort's failure were technical. The primary focus of the project was retooling PHP to include native support for Unicode. That wouldn't be limited to strings, either; in PHP 6, developers would be able to specify variable names, function names, and other identifiers using any Unicode script, including multibyte encodings such as Chinese and Hindi. As the years rolled on and hidden gotchas began to surface, however, it became clear that the PHP developers had bitten off more than they could chew."

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