Systems Languages: An Experience Report

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Recently, there’s been a lot of turmoil in the systems language community. We have the Rust Evangelism Strikeforce nudging us towards rewriting everything in Rust. We have the C++17 folks who promise the safety and ease of use of modern programming languages with the performance and power of C. And then there’s a long tail of other “systems” programming languages, like Nim, Reason / OCaml, Crystal, Go, and Pony.

Personally, I’m super excited we’re seeing some interesting work in the programming language theory space. This got me excited to learn more about what’s out there. A lot of the problems I solve are usually solved in C. Recently, Go has begun to encroach on C’s territory. I enjoy C and Go as much as the next person …

What Is a Systems Language?

Let’s back up a bit. What is a systems language? Well, I think that depends on where you are in the stack, and who you ask. In general, I would suggest the definition of a systems language is a language that can be used to implement the components your systems runs atop.

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