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Growing the Java Programming Language

Guy L. Steele, Jr.
Sun Microsystems Labs
February 4, 2000
Over the last quarter-century I have become convinced that trying to design a complete and perfect programming language is now the worst thing you can do. A programming language (including its associated libraries) must grow over time as its user community and its development community grows. This is a different situation from 25 years ago, when all such communities were relatively small. The difference is a problem of scale. As a result, programming language design now and in the future is necessarily as much a matter of social engineering as technical engineering and must rely more on a set of general principles than on a set of specific technical decisions. We will explore the application of these general principles to Java as a case study.

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