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In the beginning, a programmer needed to know everything about the internal workings of a specific computer in order to program it. This took quite a bit of knowledge and effort. Then, from within the programming industry, an idea emerged. The idea was to reduce the amount of knowledge of the internal workings of the computer a programmer needed to write programs (some call this idea encapsulation ). If adopted, this concept could make it easier and faster to program, and the program itself could be less error prone. A second idea followed this first one: If programs could be presented in a familiar language, then programmers could learn them quickly. These ideas eventually led to high-level languages.
High-level languages were created to make programming easier, but today's high-level programming languages have seriously evolved from early predecessors like FORTRAN in the 1950s. You have your high-level languages, your high-level scripting languages, your high-level open-source scripting languages, your high-level open source object-oriented scripting languages, and your very high-level open -source object-oriented scripting languages (yes, the dreaded VHLOSOOSLs). So much for easier. Despite the long, often buzzword -filled names , there are those of us who love these languages. And luckily we like to spend time explaining why.
Before you commit to a project with a certain language, spend some time under the hood, read a book or two, and check into the language's community. Most good languages will already have a large and very active user basethat is, if they have useful features that appeal to a wide audience and if they are capable of getting the job done. This chapter and the next spend a bit of time showing how Python, Lua, and Ruby appeal to a wide range of jobs and professionals and how their communities have grown in power and presence in recent years .
Open Source Software
The basic definition of open source software is software that has its code base opened up and viewable to users. Anyone can look under the hood of open source software to see how it works.
Open source software likely originated with the United States government. In the 1960 and 70s, the U.S.was funding systems of distributed computers that would later become the Internet, and they actively encouraged scientists to develop technologies that could facilitate distributed computing. Academic researchers, including those at MIT, UCLA, Berkeley, and Stanford, and later corporate researchers at companies like IBM and Xerox began developing technologies for computers and operating systems to communicate with each other. Out of this movement came utilities such as Sendmail and TCP/IP. Other tools, like Emacs, Perl, and Linux, followed.
Open source does not necessarily mean "free." Open source code is usually free to download, view, and modify, but most open source software is copyrighted and possesses some sort of license. Often there are restrictions on its use. For instance, many open source licenses require that if modifications are made to source code, the modifications need to be released to the public at large. This means that open source utilization in private, commercial software development involves other costs. Of course, using commercial software also involves software licenses and tracking copies and usage.
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