is a category of programming languages, which share the properties
of being high-level, dynamically typed and open source. These languages
have been referred to in the past by some as "scripting languages",
and by others as "general-purpose programming languages".
Neither moniker accurately represents the true strengths of these
languages. We propose the term "dynamic languages" as
a compact term, which evokes both the technical strengths of the
languages and the social strengths of their communities of contributors
This paper will
argue that many of the pressures on software systems, such as the
push for standards-compliant open systems and the competitive advantages
granted to customizable systems, combined with a shift from CPU-bound
systems to network-bound systems, have propelled dynamic languages
into a new, critical role. In addition to their traditional role
in support of scripting tasks, these programming languages have
demonstrated an unequaled ability to build a diverse set of important
We believe this
shift in importance warrants replacing the term "scripting
language" with one that better describes the languages' nature
and impact, and suggest the use of the term "dynamic languages".
The choice of the word "dynamic" over "scripting"
is a pragmatic one-the original term has tended to minimize the
broad range of applicability of the languages in question. The new
term reflects the belief that the real-world value of these languages
derives more from their dynamics (technical and social) than their
In what follows,
I present the essential characteristics of dynamic languages as
they contrast with other language categories. Popular dynamic languages
are briefly surveyed, followed by an analysis of their emergent
properties in current technical, social, economic, and legal contexts.
We suggest software environments where they are most and least appropriate.
A language is
a media to communicate. One of the definitions of the language is
is a systematic means of communicating by the use of sounds or conventional
be classified into two: natural languages and formal languages.
are the languages that people speak, such as English, Malayalam,
Spanish, and French. They were not designed by people (although
people try to impose some order on them); they evolved naturally.
are languages that are designed by people for specific applications.
For example, the notation that mathematicians use is a formal language
that is particularly good at denoting relationships among numbers
and symbols. Chemists use a formal language to represent the chemical
structure of molecules.
languages are formal languages that have been designed to express
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