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Dynamic Languages

There 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 and users.

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 software systems.

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 approachability.

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 as follows:

"A language is a systematic means of communicating by the use of sounds or conventional symbols"


Languages can be classified into two: natural languages and formal languages.

2.2.1 Natural Languages

Natural 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.

2.2.2 Formal Languages

Formal languages 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.

Programming languages are formal languages that have been designed to express computations.


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