Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Programming in English

Scott Hanselman's post Do you have to know English to be a Programmer? made me recall some code I saw long ago in (I think) the Sharefile system of APL*PLUS for IBM mainframes. A spinlock had a curious name. When I asked someone about it, I was told that the programmer who coded it was Dutch, and the word was Dutch for something that no one by then could remember.

I occasionally use Russian words in my own code. For example, a date/time value representing the current time may be called сейчас (seychas). A date value representing the current date might be called сегодня (segodnya).

In fact, one of the comments to Hanselman's post noted the phenomenon: "Variables can be named significantly and easily understandable in any language, as long as all programmers that set their hand on that code speak that language."

Someone probably still owns the trademarks to APL*PLUS and Sharefile, but I haven't a clue who that might be. STSC morphed into Manugistics (which one wag said was proof that all the good company names had already been taken), which in turn seems to have disappeared into something called JDA.