Why Would Anyone Build a New Programming Language?

Posted on 28th of July 2023 | 519 words
Plug: Follow the Sila development here.

In the vast and ever-evolving landscape of software development, programming languages play a pivotal role in how developers interact with computers and build applications. While a plethora of well-established programming languages exist, there has always been an intriguing curiosity and desire among some developers, including myself, to embark on the quest of creating our own languages.

Existing programming languages come with their own set of strengths and weaknesses. However, they may not always cater optimally to specific domains or problem sets. This has been a driving force for many language creators who seek full control over the language’s semantics. Building a new language offers the opportunity to tailor the language’s features and syntax, empowering developers and teams to solve certain classes of problems more efficiently compared to existing solutions.

However, it is essential to acknowledge that creating a new language is no easy task. Beyond the initial development, considerations for onboarding other developers and promoting adoption must be taken into account. Moreover, when considering building a language within a company setting, one must be mindful of potential monetary implications.

The decision to build a new programming language should not solely be driven by pragmatic concerns; it is also an intellectually stimulating exercise. The process involves delving into various aspects of language design, including syntax, semantics, and the implementation of the compiler or interpreter. Aspiring language creators gain a deeper understanding of computer science principles and enhance their problem-solving skills through this complex undertaking.

Throughout my journey in the world of computer science, I have dabbled in creating multiple toy compilers. Though they may not have been groundbreaking, they ignited my curiosity about compiler implementation. Despite having explored various compilers and interpreters of varying complexity, I felt a lingering sense of not fully comprehending the intricacies occurring under the hood.

Fortuitously, the summer provided a respite from my regular work commitments, granting me the perfect opportunity to embark on a more serious attempt at building a language from scratch. This time, I was determined to delve deep into the intricate details of lexing, parsing, and code generation. This ambitious undertaking offered an exciting challenge, and I was eager to explore uncharted territories in language design.

The journey of building a new programming language is undoubtedly exciting and rewarding, fueled by an array of motivations. Whether it is optimizing performance to meet specific demands, addressing domain-specific challenges, or simply exploring innovative language design paradigms, language creation is a conduit for personal growth and innovation.

As the development of my language progresses, I anticipate gaining a more comprehensive understanding of how programming languages shape our interactions with computers and applications. I hope that my creation, like many others in the world of programming languages, will contribute to the diversity of tools available to developers, enabling them to craft exceptional solutions tailored to their unique needs.

In conclusion, the decision to build a new programming language should be approached with a blend of curiosity, pragmatism, and enthusiasm. It is a journey that fosters personal growth, deepens technical understanding, and holds the potential to revolutionize the way developers solve problems and interact with computers.

Note: If you want to read earlier posts of this dev log, head over here.