Thursday, April 06, 2006


Slashdot carries EiffelStudio story

"News for Nerds" site today carried the story EiffelStudio Goes Open:
"Bertrand Meyer, the creator of Eiffel the language and CTO of Eiffel Software in Santa Barbara, CA has announced in his Software Architecture course at ETH Zurich that the company's flagship product - EiffelStudio was released under the GPL today ... Eiffel is an object oriented programming language supporting contracts. Last year the international standard (ECMA) for Eiffel was released and now the initiative to go open has been taken."
Responses are varied, ranging from "ho hum" to enthusiasm. Many of the posters remember Eiffel from their University days, and some indicated that this release has motivated them to try it again.

Not surprisingly, there's considerable ignorance about the real advantages of Design By Contract (it is stated to be nothing more than assertions) and the shootout benchmarks are being quoted without making it clear that they apply to SmartEiffel rather than EiffelStudio.

But, as they say in advertising: Say anything you like, provided you spell the name right.

Overall enthusiasm seems pretty high. There are surprisingly less derogatory comments than other slashdot Eiffel stories.

I wonder why some people hate the syntax so much? The other day I wanted to find how an Eiffel tool was performing some task. Thanks to well named classes and features I was able to find the exact location in code in under a minute. Eiffel code, when done right (e.g. ISE and Gobo style) is the most readable code I've seen.
I intend to do as much as my development in Eiffel as possible from now on. Not because it is a great language but because it is impossible to find any programmers who are familiar with it. I'm tired of investing my genius in learning technology and developing innovative business solutions only to have my projects taken over by interns.

It has taken me all night to figure how to do some simple file processing in Eiffel but that is exactly what I want - technology to make an intern turn pale. Using Eiffel for ASP.NET web applications is probably a horrible idea but you certainly aren't going to find anybody on the planet earth to make heads or tails of the code I'm going to write!

Expertise is an asset and you must protect your assets.
Well, Bertrand Meyer yesterday complained that Eiffel was just too easy: any large scale C++ project at some point needs to hire specialized experts to find all memory leaks and to clean up flawed designs.

But even his million lines customers with code more than a decade old rarely need consulting.

If you want to get rich, learn C++. Eiffel is not the way to go there.
There are thousands of programmers who know C++. You'll never find one who knows Eiffel. Also the idea is not to find customers that need Eiffel consulting but to develop new solutions in Eiffel. I primarily work for small businesses that are completely mystified by technology.

I don't expect to get rich from Eiffel expertise but I do expect to lock my clients to my services. The business world is getting very cut throat so no more mister nice guy!

So far Eiffel is meeting my requirements in that it is horribly unfamiliar. Now I just need to figure out how to do something useful with it!
[shutting down my sarcasm scanner and replying]

My experience with several Eiffel projects is that I have taken several of them, with no more internal documentation than the source and comments, and no expertise in the field of the software, and been able to modify the things I wanted after quickly finding out what to modify and how it worked, usually with no side effects. The interns will rip you away that way.

I suggest you use perl for your purposes. Even when there are a lot more Perl programmers than Eiffel programmers, they usually can not read each other, so your job will be safe. For example, check (a link posted here recently by Roger)
Perl syntax can be cryptic but it is fairly well known and there are plenty of tutorials and online help. I use regular expressions often. Even FrontPage supports regular expressions for HTML code editing.

I think RPG is the most cryptic and horrible programming language ever invented. What could be worse than a two character syntax requiring precise line positioning and a program cycle to work around? I have a job interview next week which may require some RPG knowledge but it only pays $14.00 an hour. They probably use punchcards.

I'm making excellent progress learning Eiffel.
Note that you can use regular expressions in Eiffel too.
There is a Perl-compatible regular expression class in Gobo.
Today I wrote my first useful program in Eiffel! It is a file processing utility program that examines web pages in a directory and generates a report on which web pages are missing a style sheet.

I've been adding a style sheet to my technical notes which I keep in a compiled HTML help file. I now have 399 web pages in this project so finding web pages without a style sheet needs to be automated.

My Eiffel program helped me to find many web pages without the line of code for the style sheet.

But just dating my report was fairly difficult. I had to figure out how to add the time library to my class cluster in EiffelStudio. This is not very well documented in their help file and the English, German, and French date/time formats caused a conflict because the classes all had the same name.
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