Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Programming Perplexion

In college I learned to program in FORTRAN. Why? Because I'm an engineer and that's what we program in goldurnit. FORTRAN is very good at doing math and difficult to screw up. Most of the stuff that people screw up in C, you simply can't do in FORTRAN. This has the disadvantage that unless you're doing lots of math, FORTRAN is essentially worthless. It's sort of the idiot savant of programming languages in that way.

Right now I'm writing a few tools for work in Tcl/Tk. Tcl/Tk is sort of the anti-FORTRAN. It sucks at math, it's easy to screw up, and it's syntax is labyrinthine. But you can crank out a GUI in Tcl in no time flat. Tcl is also a higher level language that has been assimilating parts of other languages like crazy. If you want it, Tcl probably has it. If you can find it and figure out how to use it.

Unfortunately as a FORTRAN programmer, I'm just not used to this kitchen sink programming paradigm. If I need something, I have generally build it myself. With FORTRAN you basically had to. I just discovered that several of my Tcl routine could be replaced with a simple line of code. Doh. Oh well, at least mine work.

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