Legacy isn’t sexy. When hearing “legacy”, people think of COBOL. Those good old days when people talked to machines like they would talk to robots. But COBOL is not the only type of legacy. According to Stephen Ball, an Embarcadero salesman and evangelist whom I’ve met at the Java 2 Days conference in Sofia, Delphi has over 3 million developers world wide. Delphi! 3 millions!
Let’s take a moment to let this information seep in.
Yes. Delphi. I’m not sure if I should believe the actual figure, but it is ranked 20th on the TIOBE index as of February 2014. That’s much better than Go (35), Scala (39), Lisp (40) or Haskell (45), which form the “hipper” languages nowadays, which everyone seems to talk about.
How does this relate to functional programming?
While many people claim functional programming to be “modern” (it’s not. Lisp surfaced in the 50ties), the bulk of popular languages are imperative, or object-oriented at best (which is just another way of structuring imperative programming). I’ve recently read an interesting article by Erkki Lindpere from the RebelLabs guys, claiming that there is a debate on object-oriented vs. functional programming and that it is about composition. His claim is that object oriented programming as any imperative programming leads to a lot of hard-to-compose state, whereas functional programming relies more heavily on immutable and thus composable values. That is quite true.
Yes, there is a debate in the functional corner. This becomes very clear when you post an article on reddit, which is dominated heavily by “functional people”. This also explained the amount of disagreement that we experienced when we published our article on LINQ vs. Java 8.
Stick with “the old ways”
But the fact is simple and clear. C (1) and Java (2) are the number one programming languages out there. Most code has been and is still being written in these languages. SQL dialects (11, 15) aren’t that far behind. While more modern languages like Scala nicely combine various paradigms into one, Java is incorporating the most popular features, slowly, with a 5-10 year lag. But then, things are done for good as Geert Bevin from RebelLabs recently stated in his article Reasons Why Java Rocks More Than Ever – Backwards Compatibility.
Jumping off the Java or SQL Ship is a bad idea, if you’re creating systems intended to last. Not all software is built for decades, true. But if yours is, you better use a technology that you know will stick around for another thirty years or so. Such as Delphi.