Why the Sharp languages still matter

Why the Sharp languages still matter

Summary: It's been a while since Microsoft has talked publicly about the # (Sharp) programming languages under development by its research unit. But the silence doesn't mean nothing's been happening.


It's been a while since Microsoft has talked publicly about the # (Sharp) programming languages under development by its research unit. But the silence doesn't mean nothing's been happening.

Elements of the Sharps -- F#, Spec#, X# (now known as C Omega), all of which build on top of the .NET Common Language Runtime (CLR) -- increasingly are finding their way into commercial programming languages.

And the Sharps may be influencing other products, like databases, in the not-too-distant future, according to Erik Meijer, a Microsoft SQL Server architect I interviewed recently for my Redmond Developer News story on the Sharp family. Meijer, one of the developers of the Haskell programming language, said:

"I really hope that there will be much more influence of the Sharp languages to other areas, in particular databases. There's a lot of very interesting theory about using monads or monoids as the basis for query languages instead of relational algebra [the basis for SQL]. Query comprehensions in LINQ are just the first step -- the tip of the iceberg. I'll be lifting a tip of the curtain at the upcoming InfoQ conference in London in March."

Anyone got any interesting Sharp stories of their own to share?

Topic: Software Development


Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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  • We use all the Sharps here...

    My rep got me pre-alpha versions of F# and X# way back. It was unreal. I pulled two of my top-Top-TOP MCSDs off their projects and told them "reinvent all of our applications in F# pronto". The edict was delivered over a Windows Mobile device running a prototype of a prototype of an alpha using X#. My rep then played the piano with all of the Sharp languages as keys and I started dancing.
    Mike Cox
    • Please stop...

      I blew coffee out of my nose I laughed so hard. On a scale of 1 to 10, this was an 11.5.
    • I certainly hope....

      ... that your rep provided you with OSHA approved containers for the proper disposal of sharps.
      Hallowed are the Ori
  • Never run with sharp objects???

    Sorry, just had to...
    • Shouldn't that have been

      "Never Run with #(Sharp) objects: Use [whatever] instead"

      (just my Linux Geek imitation)
      John Zern
  • Printing???

    I notice you have now added a Print button - Great progress for, I assume most of your readers, that print out your articles. Problem - it does not just print the story but all the other stuff also!! Note this one article that should have been 1 page - took 5 (yes FIVE) pages...wow
  • I'm a C# programmer!

    Grayson Peddie
    • umm...

      i hope you recover soon?
      Scott W
  • A Survey Showed C# Losing Appeal Most QUickly

    This one I came across recently. The drop of C#, IIRC, was the one to notice.

    TIOBE Programming Community Index for November 2006

    ,----[ Quote ]
    | Java 20.400%
    | C 17.198%
    | C++ 11.055%
    | (Visual) Basic 9.470%
    | PHP 9.209%
    | Perl 6.228%
    | Python 3.641%
    | C# 3.023%
    | JavaScript 2.310%
    | Delphi 2.252%
    | SAS 2.210%
    | Ruby 1.717%
    | PL/SQL 1.223%
    | D 0.684%
    | ABAP 0.637%
    | Lisp/Scheme 0.586%
    | COBOL 0.564%
    | Ada 0.546%
    | Pascal 0.516%
    | Visual FoxPro 0.431%

    • TIOBE provides an indirect measurement

      TIOBE only provides an indirect measurement of apparent popularity. From http://www.tiobe.com/tpci.htm :

      "The TIOBE Programming Community index gives an indication of the popularity of programming languages. The index is updated once a month. The ratings are based on the world-wide availability of skilled engineers, courses and third party vendors. The popular search engines Google, MSN, and Yahoo! are used to calculate the ratings. Observe that the TIOBE index is not about the best programming language or the language in which most lines of code have been written."
  • Lotsa Sharp Stories

    This search will return about 30 stories from September 2005 that contain references to Erik Meijer's work on Xen, X#, COmega and the resulting LINQ technology: http://oakleafblog.blogspot.com/search?q=erik+meijer

  • I'm a F#

    I'm a Java/C++/C/C#, and I was not sure about effectiveness of functional nature of F# compared to the C#, I now must admit that I was wrong. F# is simply great and I hope it will gain enough strength to be widely adopted!
  • F# is the future!

    I am one of the leaders of the Applied Games group at Microsoft Research in Cambridge. We are using F# for nearly all of our projects - in particular in the area of large scale data analysis and probabilistic modelling. For example, all our test tools for TrueSkill (the ranking system used in Xbox Live) are written in F#.

    Programming in F# has allowed us to go from weeks of development to days of development and thus makes us very productive - the most amazing thing is that our bug rate is so low! This is because functional programming allows to compose correct code out of correct building blocks. In combination with the brilliant libraries of .NET, this gives high-performant code at fast speed.

    Ralf Herbrich
  • F# rocks!

    I strongly believe that F#, above all, not only has a great potential to but WILL change .NET programming in the very near future. There are thousands of people every week who come to the language and find it a dream-come-true and become hooked. You can read about it all over the place, but to me the most important aspect of F# is that I can get things DONE quickly and without compromise. It is a great language for writing large and complex applications where its functional core gives a clear advantage over traditional # languages and a huge gain in productivity.
  • Learn F# now!

    The F# programming language from Microsoft has made the Windows
    platform accessible to me. The language combines the brevity
    and clarity of functional programming with the speed of C# and
    the interoperability of .NET.

    Check out my F# demos at: