Long rant about “obsolete” languages (not); contains swearing
Number two: #pascal (and #delphi). Going raw on this one.
“Pascal is just for teaching”. As if a language that’s easy to learn for beginners is bad. #python and #js are used a lot in teaching too and I don’t see them get shit for this. I pity people who start with #c because that’s an unreadable mess. Additionally, it came I think 2 years earlier than C, so it had to deal with the same constraints that C had. It has a lot of low level capabilities and plenty of compiler directives to choose from in case you’re a control freak. We even have asm blocks which, unlike C, aren’t (excuse my Spanish) dogshit to use, we can just reference variables inside them and it works as expected (you have to do some weird stuff in C to get that). We have pointers too and use them decently frequently. Pascal, along with ALGOL-60, was designed as a language for formal specification and teaching of algorithms, but contrary to ALGOL-68, emphasis was put on simplicity (imagine a world in which ALGOL-W was ALGOL-68…).
“Pascal is slow”. What? Pascal was fast even back when Turbo Pascal was all the rage, a direct competitor to C. #apple sure had their reasons to choose Object Pascal (basis for Delphi) when they did the Apple ][ and Apple ///). There also existed UCSD Pascal which ran on the UCSD p-System, popular at that time (it ran actual Pascal p-code, which means it was the Pascal equivalent of the #lisp Machine, really powerful). Free Pascal is on par sometimes with even GCC.
“Pascal is outdated”. News flash for people who’ve only tried Turbo Pascal: we have interfaces, generics, lambdas, Unicode support, database support through a common interface, dynamic arrays, abstract and sealed classes, for..in, operator overloading, static methods/properties, RTTI, type inference and so, so, so much more. We’re more than able to meet modern demands with the amount of libraries at our disposal. It runs on more platforms than it ever has before (I beg you to find me a more portable language than Pascal (and Free Pascal specifically) that’s not C, it’s gonna be a rough realization). I have actual enums that work like symbols, I can have negative indices, character indices, enum indices, whatever. That allows me a lot of freedom (for example, it’s a pain to iterate over enums in C, something I have to deal with in #cpp in my compiler). It’s fast, performant, easy to understand and still has room for improvement.
“Pascal’s syntax is too verbose”. It is verbose in a readable way, unlike some other public, static and void of any elegance main languages that are both terse and verbose in the most cursed way. The syntax is well structured and strict, which is good for not just beginners, but also parsers. In C, a function is 1. its signature and 2. the declaration of variables.. and definition of function which may be mixed up. In Pascal, it’s clear: 1. function/procedure signature, 2. declaration of variables, 3. definition of function/procedure/program. Simple as that, it follows a predictable structure. Don’t even get me started on C’s = vs == (which can BOTH be used as valid Boolean expressions), unlike Pascal where we have := for assignment and = for comparison (they’re mutually exclusive, as in assignment isn’t Boolean and comparison isn’t an assignment). We also have `<>` which is really different from != in C. I don’t need to insert break everywhere in my Case … Of section in Pascal because the syntax is strict and so it knows where to stop. There’s a strict difference between a pointer and a string (we have native strings too, btw, unlike C). We also have native set operators (and sets, obviously); we can check if an element is in a set via in, we can include/exclude elements, compare sets ((symmetric) difference), combine and intersect them). This is all in the language, no extra units needed.
You Pascal and Delphi haters (usually ones that never even attempted to try these languages, as always, the grapes sure are sour) aren’t grateful enough for these languages existing. For one, it’s the first widely used implementation of a bytecode (if you want to put it that way, it’s also the first VM). The chief designer of Delphi went on to create C# (which you don’t seem to have a problem with, mostly, although the Delphi influence is clear as the night sky in the mountains). Also, have you heard of these irrelevant programs named Skype and InnoSetup? Yeah, those ones. News flash: they’re in Pascal (I think Delphi specifically). Delphi essentially pioneered the concept of RAD (rapid application development) in an IDE form which is why it evolved to fit so nicely with GUI development in mind, unlike its C++ sibling in RAD Studio. It’s still hard to beat Delphi in the GUI department (too bad Embarcadero realized a bit too late that they needed a Community Edition… or Linux support). Visual Basic, Visual FoxPro, VB.NET, C#… it all started with Delphi.
I absolutely agree with Alecu about all of this, and about the rest of his rant as well.
There are so many awesome programming languages out there that do exactly what they are supposed to do, and yet no one talks about them, either because they don’t have a C-style syntax, or follow a different paradigm or they are not hyped.
Never underestimate a tiny programming language that gets shit done, or an old programming language that learned from its mistakes.