The End of Code As We Know It?

Early Adopter has a couple of thoughts on code generation that mirror my own. It’s not the end of coding as we know it. My big problem with code generation is intelligence: developers (usually) have it, code generating programs don’t. They can only generate what they’ve been programmed to. Which means they’re only good for redundant tasks. Data access code is a good example of this. But I can’t write my whole program that way.

Code generation is a simple first step, but it’s only the first step on a road that ends in language innovation. The point of higher level programming languages is to eliminate the redundant mindless tasks. While code generation is valuable (the original C++ compiler was simply a C code generator) you don’t stop there and declare victory. Developers are much more productive when the higher level abstraction is embedded in the language. VB.NET’s event handling mechanism is a great example of this. In C#, you (or the tool) need to write a bunch of code to wire up event handlers. In VB.NET, I just declare the method handles a specific event with the “Handles” keyword. True, VS.NET writes that for you in C#, but you still have to manually manage it. I’ve deleted event handler methods in C# countless times, which results in a compiler error since the auto-magically generated code isn’t auto-magically deleted.

Places where code generators are useful are indicative of future disruptive programming language innovations.