, University of Michigan
Pages: pp. 7-8
Knowing that Java was a rich, complex, compiled language aimed at professional programmers, Netscape and others also wanted a lightweight interpreted language to complement Java. This language would need to appeal to nonprofessional programmers much like Microsoft's Visual Basic and interpretable for easy embedding in webpages. According to Eich,
Given all these requirements, constraints, and limitations, Eich needed to produce a working prototype on atight schedule that would meet both Sun's needs and the Netscape 2.0 Beta release schedule.
Although the schedule and constraints might have been impossible for most programmers, Eich had a long history of building new programming languages, starting from his experience as a student at the University of Illinois, where he built languages just to experiment in syntax. At Silicon Graphics, he created languages that could be used to build extensions for network monitoring tools.
Eich built a simplified object model that combined structs from the C language, patterns from SmallTalk, and the symmetry between data and code offered by LISP. The Hypercard event model inspired the pattern for adding events to the HTML document. Object-oriented patterns were possible but via runtime semantics with prototypes (as in Self) instead of compiler-supported class syntax (as in Java and C++.
To view my interview with Eich, visit / http://youtu.be/IPxQ9kEaF8c.
Computing Conversations, a monthly multimedia-enhanced column, is intended to put a more human face on the technologies we're using in computer science. Future installments will present both full interviews and edited video segments featuring the founders and leaders in our field ( www.computer.org/computingconversations).