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Getting Involved in Programming Language Standards? 9

Carnage4Life asks: "After continually being surprised by the evolution of various programming languages (the most recent occurances being the change in meaning of the protected keyword in Java, as well as the addition of the restricted keyword in C) I've decided that I wish to get involved in the standards process for a variety of languages. This has proven to be easier said than done. So how does one get involved in the standards process for a particular language, be it C#, Javascript, Perl, C++, Java, C, Python, or any other language? I know each of these languages probably has a different process so please feel free simply to point out how to get involved in the languages you have knowledge about." Interesting question, but I think the best advice to fall back on is: "ask around". Most compilers and interpreters at least have the author's email address or a mailing list where these can be directed. With that said, has anyone done this for a specific language? If so, please tell us of your experiences.
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Getting Involved in Programming Language Standards?

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    In order to get in a standards process, you need to know your language, in two ways.

    First, as mentioned by others, you need to be an aknowledged expert in the language.

    Secondly, you need to know what the standards process for the language is. This will probably come with expertise in the language.

    C , C++, Ada, Fortran, etc. are all ISO standards. In order to get involved in changing/creating the next version of the standard (there is nothing you can do to change the current version), you need to get onto the working groups/standards comittee. I'm not aware of the proceedure, but it probably involves gaining ISO/ANSI membership and a lot of red tape.

    Languages like Perl and Python, however, are more or less defined by their implementation. There is no "standard" aside from what Larry Wall or Guido van Rossum says the language is. In order to work on the "standard", you need to get Larry or Guido's ear, that is get on the perl-developers or python-developers mailing lists, and have ideas that people respect.

    If you want the "easiest" way to influence the standards of a language, make up a new one. This way you have complete control of the language features. (You'll probably be the only one using it, too.)

  • by Anonymous Coward
    At least Microsoft was forthright about their cloning of C++. Sun keeps trying to pretend that they didn't just dumb down C++.
  • Write your own programming language and call it the new industry standard.

    Might work.
  • by yoink! ( 196362 )
    And realise that as much as standards are pushed there will always be those, especially products that do some coding for you *cough* and you programs know who you are *cough* which will stray from any standard, under the banner of adding more and making it easier for the programmer when, in reality, it just causes some trouble. I'm clearly not a good programmer by any means, in fact I'd rank myself with the lowest of the low, but even my first introduction to programming, starting with the venerable C, I ran in to issues with all the different compilers at home and at school, something which I assume, as a layman, standards are supposed to wash away. Just some thoughts.

  • No, if you want to do a Microsoft, you simply hijack another programming language, add proprietary extensions, and call it the new industry standard.

  • In order to work on the "standard", you need to get Larry or Guido's ear, that is get on the perl-developers or python-developers mailing lists, and have ideas that people respect.

    Specifically, for Perl, subscribe to p5p, aka perl5-porters. Mail sent to should do it.

    If what you're mostly interested in is keeping track of changing things, then feel free to hang out and listen on p5p. That's where most patches get sent and people talk about implementing new features, so you'll get to hear about a new keyword being proposed and struck down or adopted, or a change in syntax, or a new module being added to the core.

    Larry Wall only posts occasionally; the people responsible for the releases are known as "pumpkings"; the pumpking for 5.6.1 (the latest release of the stable branch) is Gurusamy Sarathy and the for 5.7.1 (the latest release of the development branch) is Jarkko Hietaniemi. There are also pumpkings for areas such as the regular expression engine.

    If you want to get noticed, one good way might be to start submitting patches. [] exists and has lots of ideas you could consider -- even if it's only a report that "this bug doesn't occur any more with the latest release" or "I can reproduce this here on <platform>, and I think the problem might be in foo.c line 134", without knowing how to fix it. But for a start, it's undoubtedly better to start off as a lurker and see what happens.


  • At least one person (Kent Pitman) who was involved in writing the ANSI Common Lisp standard is regularly found in comp.lang.lisp. Perhaps a polite question to him would find him willing to share some of his experiences (also, you can surely find some of that in the archives of c.l.l as well).
  • by Chacham ( 981 ) on Tuesday April 24, 2001 @07:04AM (#268472) Homepage Journal

    Just wanting to join some standard doesn't mean that you are "good" at it. Check out the newsgroups and email lists about the languages. Learn what others know, and talk about it. Eventually your name will mean something, if it should, and people might actually come to you when working on the language.

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