At least in terms of basic grammar, the previous two or three decades have been a bit of a snooze for computer languages. As Java and then JavaScript, both of which use the same basic punctuation, the C-style structure began to dominate the world.

Sure, there are significant variances underneath the hood, but to the casual observer going past a cubicle, they all appear to be the same. Python is the sole significant change, and its primary contribution to syntax was the elimination of curly brackets.

However, just because the major languages have converged does not mean that everything is the same. Programmers love to try new things, and they’re always coming up with innovative ways to tackle problems. Many people deal with minor issues and scratch a personal itch. Some mature, but many others continue to run smoothly and accomplish exactly what they were created to do.

At first glance, these outliers may appear ludicrous. Why go to the trouble of establishing a completely new language? But you’re missing the point if you’re asking that question. Programmers must be able to develop, expand, and explore, and one of these languages could be exactly the ticket.

Morse Code: Not just for cybercriminals anymore

This wasn’t made with the best of intentions in mind. Whoever created the Morse Code programming language was almost probably after your personal information and possibly your bank account in order to steal whatever you’ve earned. A system that encodes instructions in dots and dashes, on the other hand, is ingenious and steampunk-ish.

Yes, the dots and dashes are finally converted to regular characters before being compiled. Yes, any standard substitution cipher would suffice. Yes, it isn’t actually a new language; at best, it is a new character set.

But can any other language bring back memories of World War II submarine movies and the days before the Civil War, when Samuel Morse pondered the best message to demonstrate what he could achieve with the wire he’d stretched between Baltimore and Washington? “What hath God wrought?” Morse wonders.

Take the ScummVM adventure

Many classic adventure games were developed in a domain-specific language that was optimized for gameplay, which entailed traveling through a series of nodes with descriptions and occasional objects. Several languages were developed throughout time to enable such games, and LucasFilms’ version was dubbed Scumm (Script Creation Utility for Maniac Mansion).

Anyone can still explore these places, pick up their virtual objects, and solve the puzzles. ScummVM is a modern, GPL-licensed game engine that reads Scumm files and transports you back to those beautiful worlds. New Scumm encounters are even being written by some.

However, Scumm isn’t the only adventure game language on the market. Adventure Game Studio is a Windows-based program featuring a drag-and-drop editor for adding visuals and animated sprites, while Gamefic is a Ruby-based framework in active development. Adventure Language and JSBeeb are two browser-based programming languages for BBC Basic lovers.

Shsql database: For command-line aficionados

Some customers demand their databases to have attractive graphical interfaces that make browsing the data as simple as possible. Shsql’s creators, on the other hand, don’t require appealing graphics, charming clickable buttons, or shifting layouts.

They enjoy working with the command line and want to be able to generate, update, and delete data from it. Shsql stands for Structured Query Language, but it’s built into the operating system and ready to accept data from the command line.

‘F’ is not just for Fortran

In the 1960s, Fortran was the dominant language, with new features coming out all the time. People joked that they didn’t know what programming will look like in the future, but they were certain it would be called Fortran. They weren’t completely incorrect.

Fortran fans may now employ the data structures, scientific methodology, and coding styles they’ve always enjoyed with the F language. It works with Fortran 77, so you can link to your old code, even if it’s on a dusty deck of punch cards.

Note that F should not be confused with F#, a functional language intended for the.NET framework, where C# is also widely used.

MUMPS is about more than medical records

When the hospital industrial complex first started talking about electronic medical records in the 1960s, the MUMPS language was established. “Massachusetts General Hospital Utility Multi-Programming System” was the acronym for “Massachusetts General Hospital Utility Multi-Programming System.” That designation persisted until 1992 when it was given the single-letter name M to compete with the newfangled C.

The developers were ahead of the curve because they recognized the importance of providing reliable, ACID (atomic, consistent, independent, and durable) transaction support for medical data tracking.

Today, the M user group updates the catchphrase by pointing out that M was one of the first to offer a “stable schema-less” or “NoSQL” database system, akin to Amazon SimpleDB and Google BigTable in concept but with a far longer, time-tested track record of success. It’s old, yet it’s still relevant.

Sweave: When you need two languages in one

Sweave is a portmanteau of two languages, similar to the cross-bred Labradoodles and cockapoos.

A sweave file comprises a mix of R and LaTeX code for analyzing and presenting data. You can type human-readable content and then switch to writing software with just a few escape characters. “>>=” is the signal that starts a block of computer-readable R code, and the “at” sign (@) is the end character.

The clever game is to begin meta programming so that R code generates LaTeX macros, which are then executed to generate new R code. Knitr, a relative created to offer extra capabilities, including the ability to mix in Rmarkdown, may be of interest to advanced users. What exactly is it? An alternative to using LaTeX typesetting code is to use the classic markdown format. It has a triple-back quote as its start tag. Eventually, the outcome is a PDF that is often quite readable.

Coq: When you need to play by the rules

A program is a mathematical proof, and a good mathematical proof is also a program, claim the more theoretical software developers. Coq is a language used by mathematicians to make stringent logical proofs, although it’s also similar to software development.

The language allows you to create definitions and then connect them to create algorithms and theorems. The compiler’s goal is to ensure that your proof follows all of the rules, not to convert it into an executable.

The language can be used by mathematicians to guarantee that their proofs are sound. Programmers that must build algorithms that are even slightly mathematically complex might validate their technique to verify that it is reliable.

Create a new language with Racket

When asked to pay the expenses that their CIOs have racked up, CFOs may grumble under their breath about the “software development racket.” This is most likely not the origin of the name of the meta-programming language Racket, although it makes for a good fable for the cynics. Racket is a modern version of the super flexible LISP language with the goal of creating new languages as one of its key goals.

A cynic might draw a connection between how tax collectors send out tax bills to support the training of new tax collectors and how they send out tax bills to fund the training of new tax collectors. But there’s more to it. The language is designed to help programmers write parsers, tokenizers, and output generators for specialized languages.

Some people even refer to languages designed to handle certain, narrow tasks as “domain-specific languages.” There’s brag, which is a programming language for creating a specific type of parser. Anatomy aids in the definition of skeleton relationships. (Not the metaphorical skeleton code, but real skeletons formed of bones.)

Then there’s a book cover, a language for anyone creating a rationally constructed cover for a book.

The author of the manual “Beautiful Racket: An intro­duc­tion to language-oriented program­ming using Racket,” Matthew Butterick, invented a text-based language called Pollen to arrange the book’s macros and typesetting instructions. For writing a book about writing books.

Everything is really meta.

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