Scripting – Higher Level Languages For The 21st Century

There’s been a lot of debate on the Extreme Programming list recently about Tcl vs Java, mostly spurred by Dossy’s citation of the Jeff Hobbs quote: I’ve come to the realization that there are so many more Java jobs than Tcl jobs because it takes 10 Java programmers to do what I can do in Tcl. I’m only half-joking…

Interestingly I came across an article today in IEEE Computer, from Jan 1998, that compared the scripting languages (particularly Tcl) with the system languages (C, C++, Java et al). It covers most of the usual ground, but also includes an interesting chart of some applications that, for one reason or another, ended up being written in both types of languages:

Application Comparison Code Ratio Effort Ratio
Database Application C++: 2 months
Tcl: 1 day
Computer System Test and Installation C Test Application: 272,000 LOC, 120 mths
C FIS Application: 90,000 LOC, 60 mths
Tcl/Perl: 7,700 LOC, 8 months
47:1 22:1
Database Library C++: 2 months
Tcl: 1 day
Database Library C++: 2-3 months
Tcl: 1 week
Security Scanner C: 3000 LOC
Tcl: 300 LOC
Display Oil Well Production Curves C++: 3 months
Tcl: 2 weeks
Query Dispatcher C 12,000 LOC, 4-8 weeks
Tcl: 500 LOC, 1 week
2.5:1 4-8:1
Spreadsheet Tool C: 1460 LOC
Tcl: 380 LOC
Simulator and GUI Java 3,400 LOC, 3-4 weeks
Tcl: 1600 LOC, under 1 week
2:1 3-4:1

Some of the reduction in effort is no doubt due to the TCL version usually being written second, but for at least one of the applications this wasn’t true. In many of the cases the TCL version also provided more functionality.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *