Nullc: Fast C-like programming language with advanced features

karmakaze · 10 days ago

> nullc is a C-like embeddable programming language with advanced features such as function overloading, operator overloading, class member functions and properties, automatic garbage collection, closures, coroutines, local functions, type inference, runtime type information, modules, list comprehension, enums, namespaces, generic functions and classes

Not exactly what I would call C-like in that it does a whole lot more. It is C-like in the way many popular languages are, that the syntax resembles C but that superficial similarity isn't really worth noting. It may be good marketing to get people to look at a new language though.

Santosh83 · 9 days ago

More interesting tidbits:

> Language is type-safe and memory-safe.

> nullc library can execute code on a VM or translate it to x86 code for fast execution. It can also translate nullc files into C source files.

But sadly, although the project has been around for 11 years, development seems to have stalled since last year, at least going by GitHub activity.

ModernMech · 9 days ago

Work on long term projects like this tends to go in bursts. Stalled activity for a year isn’t unheard of. This project had a lot of activity in 2011, stalled the better part of a decade, and then had a burst of 1600+ commits last year. This is the mark of a project that has renewed interest from its author.

spicybright · 9 days ago

Not a great language to code anything not a toy in then.

api · 9 days ago

Why is activity the measure of product quality? If I write something that works great and needs few updates is it inferior to something that’s broken and gets commits every day?

This is just a terrible metric of software quality that became standard without anyone discussing why.

adwn · 9 days ago

Because programming languages are different from regular software: for a programming language to be useful, it needs an ecosystem of libraries, package management, and IDE support. It's not the 80s anymore, when everyone wrote their own libraries anyway, maybe shared them with friends or colleagues, and didn't expect anything beyond a small standard library.

Today, a new language has a small window of a few years, after which it either achieves escape velocity, or re-enters the atmosphere and burns up. A new language which hasn't received major updates for two years, is effectively dead. It's a social phenomenon, not a technical one.

zdragnar · 9 days ago

> without anyone discussing why

Why does it need to be discussed? Not actively maintained says it is either "done" or abandoned.

It is also a (weak) proxy for popularity, meaning if I do run into an issue an active repo means I am more likely to get help.

A quick glance at the git repo shows that it has builds set up on travis that are failing, and an unanswered question in the issue tracker. Neither of these inspire confidence that it will "work great"

karmakaze · 9 days ago

I can make a guess why this might matter. For something that's not already widely used, we start with the premise that it is not finished in that it hasn't been exercised enough to know it is. With that a lack of activity indicates that edges are not being found and fixed. There could be an argument made that the way the software is developed and tested finds and fixes inconsistencies but that would have to be illustrated and not accepted as a given by statement alone.

aaron_m04 · 9 days ago

I think the assumption is that all software developers produce output of equal quality.

b3morales · 10 days ago

The README is mostly a changelog -- there is a "Language Reference" in the wiki: https://github.com/WheretIB/nullc/wiki/Language-Reference although it's still pretty terse and really just a catalog. Is there an introductory document anywhere?

rasengan · 9 days ago

I agree. This project is fascinating. It's unfortunate it doesn't have one of those cool websites with docs, examples and all.

huhtenberg · 8 days ago

There is a language spec and it's quite comprehensive -

http://svn.assembla.com/svn/SuperCalc/LanguageEN.html

kf6nux · 9 days ago

> function overloading, operator overloading

I think Go took the right approach with calling those bugs to be avoided rather than features to be implemented.

Don't be clever. Be understandable to most readers.

mhh__ · 9 days ago

The readers who matter should not have any issue understanding your code. You don't have to make the code understandable to most readers i.e. off the street.

If you make a function called add which actually subtracts, why is that any different to an operator overload?

preseinger · 9 days ago

The measure of a successful software project is how long it takes an arbitrary programmer who has intermediate proficiency with the language and a reasonable understanding of the business domain to understand and become a productive contributor to the codebase.

erik_seaberg · 9 days ago

Learning curves bring payoffs. It's most important that an expert can quickly make changes that are obviously correct, concise, and performant to the other experts.

Quickly onboarding novices is only helpful for throwaway work or teams with retention problems. Their work inherently needs more scrutiny until they become experts.

anonymoushn · 9 days ago

That sounds like a measure for successful software projects at deeply dysfunctional large companies that have fresh grads maintaining almost all of their software after the authors vanished.

The whole attitude (and the Go programming language) is maybe downstream from the fact that perf/promo criteria punish people who maintain the software they write.

mhh__ · 9 days ago

Yes, but in my experience if your issue is operator overloading then you have bigger issues to worry about.

dainiusse · 9 days ago

Exactly. I think some people complain about Go's limitations. But this gives back in readability.

setpatchaddress · 9 days ago

Ruby and Swift have those features and are fine languages. The reaction against those features originates from exposure to C++.

WalterBright · 9 days ago

It's true that function overloading is often overused. operator overloading, too <cough>iostreams</cough>

erect_hacker4 · 9 days ago

Do you have a cough?

randomNumber7 · 9 days ago

Yes but then they created their own world of evil with the ducktyping aproach...

convolvatron · 10 days ago

I scanned the readme.md and found a few c++ style features listed in one of the earlier changsets. it would be helpful to have some kind of statement regarding the intent (i.e. c++ with less bloat, or novel type system, or whatever it is)

rcthompson · 10 days ago

I'm curious how it implements GC but compiles to C source. Does it just emit the source for the entire VM as part of the output?

klyrs · 9 days ago

If you use Cython to compile vanilla Python, it implements GC in the C source without the VM. I don't find that especially noteworthy... though I do wonder about the particulars of their GC implementation (though... ick, GC).

jb1991 · 9 days ago

I think the popular Nim language also does this.

convolvatron · 10 days ago

VM? if you use your own allocator its pretty straightforward to run C code on a GC. there is of course Boehm, but its .. really slow and pretty fussy. since you own the compiler in this case you can even support object relocation (compaction) which does really* help a lot in total performance as well as footprint.

kwertyoowiyop · 9 days ago

At the top of the first page of every “new language” link there should be some source code examples!

posterboy · 10 days ago

Garbage collection is the antithesisto C. Yuck! If you want to offer an operating system so do it

rzzzt · 9 days ago

C gatekeeping!

Brian_K_White · 9 days ago

what a strange charge

spicybright · 9 days ago

I read the above comments as tongue in cheek, but I see many arguments online that go like this for many different things.

I'm not gatekeeping apples by saying a grape is not an apple, I'm debating how to classify these things.

nullc · 9 days ago

Not sure how I feel about this!

oleganza · 10 days ago

FYI: nullc is a long-time username of Gregory Maxwell (here on HN, on Reddit and elsewhere too).

netr0ute · 10 days ago

Isn't this just a rebranded C++?

me_me_me · 10 days ago

No, its C with Extra features, or lesser C++.

Jokes aside, I might have a look at it over weekend, it would be nice to see some PR materials on their git repo. Why should one use it over C/Rust etc.

gompertz · 9 days ago

I always get curious about languages like this; but the only one that ever stuck with me was the Pike programming language (circa '94). Pawn seemed somewhat decent too.

personasdfghjkl · 9 days ago

Nitpick: break, return, import etc are statements, not expressions