[conspire] Java isn't even Cobol 2.0

Akkana Peck akkana at shallowsky.com
Tue Feb 15 09:05:05 PST 2022

paulz at ieee.org writes:
> I have the same opinion about FORTRAN, which is another legacy language.  

I worked in FORTRAN in one of my first jobs, working in a lab
that had an HP1000 where the languages choices were assembly,
FORTRAN, or Pascal. I wondered why they were using FORTRAN instead
of Pascal, until I tried a few Pascal programs and learned how
incredibly slow the Pascal compiler, and its generated code, was.

Then I mostly forgot about FORTRAN until sometime around 2011 (give
or take a couple years), when I was interviewing for a job at a
large government science institution where I really wanted to work.
The group was cool, too: their job was to take datasets from other
groups and made them available to the public on the web, something I
feel very strongly about. But my enthusiasm cooled when the
interviewer revealed that all these data format conversion programs
-- take a large dataset, convert it to open formats, generate web
pages to make it easy to download the parts you want -- were written
in FORTRAN, and adding other languages to the mix wasn't an option.
FORTRAN is very good at some things, but flexible string manipulation
and parse trees and such aren't exactly its strong points.

In the end, they had a hiring freeze right after I interviewed, so
there was never an issue of a possible job offer. But I always keep
that interview in the back of my head while struggling to navigate
cumbersome government data websites.


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