[Oberon] V4 versus S3 survey

Andreas Pirklbauer andreas_pirklbauer at yahoo.com
Tue Nov 21 17:26:45 CET 2017

> Something is successful to the extent that it achieves its stated
> aims. I have used Oberon since (I think) the late 80s or early 90s,
> and I don’t think I’ve ever seen what you are describing stated as
> one of its aims, by its authors.

That is of course correct. These were not the stated goals. I have
known Oberon since 1988, and for as long as I can remember, one of
its main goals was to convincingly demonstrate that an entire OS can
be built in a high-level, completely type-safe language, such that it
can not only be understood by a single person in all its gory details,
i.e. really down to the last bit, but that is so simple (yet powerful)
that it can be described - again in all its details (i.e. including
the full source code) in a single book. By that definition, Oberon
has definitely achieved its goals. And I know of no other comparable
effort in the history of software engineering (apart, perhaps, from
some of the very first versions of Unix back in the early 1970s and
later Minix, which also fitted in a single book, with included the
full source code (but..dare I say it, these systems are written in C)

> What I have seen is the ideas of Oberon increasingly, and often
> explicitly, adopted by more mainstream languages, such as Java, Go,
> C#. So it has at least been a very influential language / system,
> and while the languages cited may fall some way short of the jewel-
> like perfection of Oberon, at least they are significant improvements
> on most their predecessors, thanks to Oberon.

That too is correct. And it is of course no surprise that in some of
these efforts, former students of Prof. Wirth were/are involved. Just
read the Go language report for example. If one didn’t know, one mistake
it with the Oberon report.. until you get to the syntax part of it. So
there definitely is some strong influence here. C#, but also Swift, have
all adopted what is usually called “safe programming pattern”.

I still that an Oberon-style language could now be there in place of,
say, C# or Swift. It is not, and that’s a pity - no matter what its
original goals were.

-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://lists.inf.ethz.ch/pipermail/oberon/attachments/20171121/804870b6/attachment.html>

More information about the Oberon mailing list