Sunday, April 29, 2012

Are we loosing C skills? Should we care?

A sign of the times. In the last three weeks I have taught two Python courses and one Perl. Last week a C programming course was running with just one delegate. I have not taught C for several years despite being the only trainer for C in the company (I do not include ObjectiveC). This week I will be teaching UNIX programming using C for the first time for four years.

So what? Software moves on, no one uses C anymore. Really?

Perl, PHP, Python, Ruby, are all written in C. Most of Windows and Linux is written in C. Sure, there are versions like Jython, but the use of that variant is relatively small. Programmers of my generation are gradually "logging-out", what happens then? The number of new C programmers seems very low. That will be fine for while, but we are loosing the skills to operate at the lower levels.

Will the systems of the future be able to build on the C base we have, or will everyone be using high level tools? Does it matter? I think it does, the foundations of software should be solid, not top-heavy. I don't think you can really understand UNIX or Linux unless you understand C. Who will pickup the baton?