Carbon and Other “Successor Languages”

Looking at the Carbon document on GitHub, they list several “successor languages”:

  • Java -> Kotlin (creator / maintainer: Jetbrains, supported by Google)
  • Objective-C -> Swift (creator / maintainer: Apple)
  • Javascript -> Typescript (creator / maintainer: Microsoft)
  • C++ -> Carbon (creator / maintainer: Google)

What do ALL of these successor languages have in common? They have all been created by for profit companies and then made “open source” after their creation. To me, this says that the privileged position that these languages have in developers’ minds is largely do to large corporations finding it profitable to push out marketing and training materials to get developers to use them.

To use Apple as an example, yes Swift is open source and you can use it to make web servers, but ultimately it’s good for Apple’s bottom line to have developers trained in Swift because it means those developers can more easily move to creating apps for Apple (which makes money for Apple).

The risk here is that if Apple decides that having an open ecosystem is no longer in their interest, they can sabotage Swift because they have an outsized say in what happens to the language. Same goes for the other projects listed above.

What I see with these “successor languages” is a move away from tech (programming languages) made for engineers by engineers toward a world where everyone uses tech made by corporations for corporations. Like C#. And everyone LoOoOoVeS C#, right? /s

This is why I’m learning Rust. It’s the only current “successor language” that actually follows the letter and spirit of FLOSS principals.


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