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According to Joel, Wasabi is "a very advanced, functional-programming dialect of Basic with closures and lambdas and Rails-like active records that can be compiled down to VBScript, JavaScript, PHP4 or PHP5"

Are you kidding me?

At first glance, I thought this was a complete joke.  Who in their right mind creates a proprietary programming language to write a bug tracking application?  But, after re-reading his previous post about "Thistle" (, it seems that Wasabi might not be that far of a stretch.

So, the question follows...  Is there a chance we'll get to see any of this oh-so-magical-does-everything programming language?  I'd be interested in even the most basic of constructs. Or, more likely, is Wasabi doomed to an eternity behind closed doors and whispers between members of the secret handshake club?

Personally, I write all my software with the beta version of Arc.  It translates easily to C++, Java, Erlang, and Haskell.
N Send private email
Friday, September 01, 2006
I don't think it's "all that!"

History makes me believe a) Wasabi is VBScript with some conventions, though "translatable" like he said, and b) he couldn't help but exaggerate it.

But your comment was entertaining because you don't seem to be kidding one bit.
Friday, September 01, 2006
I found it funny that Joel goes on for an entire post about how you should make the "safe" choice and only use the languages and platforms that huge numbers of other people are useing.... then he causally mentions that they use a proprietary "functional dialect of basic". That's too funny not to be an intentional joke.  I mean, honestly, noone is that unaware of themselves.

Of course, if it is a joke, it makes the actual point of the article a bit of a crapshoot.
anonymouse Send private email
Friday, September 01, 2006
Check out the "feedback":

All went down-hill with that last bit, it seems.

I like Ruby, and I know it's to ask too much sometimes to ask people to use it -- any people, as in, people from all kinds of backgrounds, etc.

Joel couldn't have improved it a lot and sign it with his name. After all, he does not have first-hand experience with it and as said in the article, "languages don't matter" -- even more when you don't intend to be a cowboy coder anymore. :-)

Joel has made me more favors than I could have asked for, and when his opinion is not 100% like I would want it, I give him the benefits he deserves.
Friday, September 01, 2006
anonymouse -

Heh, you're not the only one to catch that.  David Heinemeier Hansson (creator of Ruby on Rails) goes to town on the article, and I have to agree: Joel's humor is too subtle or his hipocrisy is off the charts.
therevolution Send private email
Friday, September 01, 2006
If wasabi is real, that sounds pretty cool. Game companies always create their own scripting languages for internal use.

If you have to make money by selling boring bugtracking software, it would be fun to do it in a place where the boss lets you build the software by first writing your own language. If he's really targeting VBscript, javascript, and PHP, how else would you do it other than writing your own language? The only other option I can think of is the "million monkeys" approach, where separate teams of numbskulls are writing the same code in different languages. This is what we did at ArsDigita, and look where that ended up...

Friday, September 01, 2006
There is a clear difference between hand crafting a language (or any internal tool) for a very specific purpose with very specific usage and performance requirements, and trying to work with a general framework to meet same requirements.

In the former case since you "own" the tool and its scope is small you can very easily change whatever is needed to meet said requirements. In the latter if the framework doesn't do what you want, then you either have to engage in the community to get the changes made (which due to conflicting requirements will happen at a much slower speed), or if the project is open source you can make a local fork and live with maintaining that for the rest of your project's life. Either way you lose.

Now what you lose from using the in-house tool is the functionality you have to reinvent from scratch that the framework would have given you for free. So where you can, you trade off by looking for frameworks that have been well-tested in the real world on similar applications. But sometimes you can’t find one that meets your requirements so you roll your own tool.

Thus it should be clear that advocating well tested frameworks over untested ones is entirely consistent with advocating in-house languages (or any type of in house tool) over general frameworks, where their usage is appropriate. The fact that the creator of such a general framework lacks the ability to see this makes me question how much real world exposure he, and his framework, actually have had. This only furthers Joel’s point, ironically.
Ian Nowland
Friday, September 01, 2006
I second Ian's opinion.

A full-fledged solution should be impersonal.

I think Wasabi's joke had some seriousness in it, when taking in consideration the impersonal thing.

And that's a challenge that open source frameworks need to overcome, because their projects need to get popular and independent for their futures to look promising. Else, ASP.NET or something as popular will always eat their lunch -- out of inertia.

One needs lots of energy to break that someone else's inertia. I for one can't do it, so my development tools will remain in-house niche techs, which I'm willing to maintain for the next decade, hoping to make it big.
Friday, September 01, 2006
> Heh, you're not the only one to catch that.  David Heinemeier Hansson (creator of Ruby on Rails) goes to town on the article, and I have to agree: Joel's humor is too subtle or his hipocrisy is off the charts.

I love that article.  He basically throws a few insults at Joel, and accuses him of spreading FUD.

Why and how has being accusing somebody of being a FUD spreader, become the biggest insult in the IT/programming/tech world?

The thing about FUD is sometimes it's right.

Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt, are good things to have if you're worried if something has the capabilities you need.

Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt, are good things to have if you're worried whether something has a bright or dismal future.

Now, I can't say whether Joel's FUD is right or wrong. There isn't anything in Hansson's article to help me determine.

In my experience, inventing your own programming language, is, more than 99 times out of 10, a stupid waste of resources. Programmers love doing it. Some get real thrills out of lex and yacc, etc.  But it doesn't (usually) make your product any better. Over time the drain that it causes, always worse.

I think Joel was joking (I assumed he was joking until I $read this thread). 

But if Joel really has invented a proprietary language for his bug tracking app, then I think that is a stupid decision.  I've know a programmer who invented his own language for data-import for god sakes, and this wouldn't be much better.
Sunil Tanna
Friday, September 01, 2006
Wasabi as an idea isn't so stupid - The FogBugz code is already written in slightly stylized VBScript so that it can be automatically converted to PHP.  Why not extend that converter to spit out VBScript as well.

v1.0 simply emits exactly what you put in.
v2.0 you can start adding your own constructs and automatically start to work around all the crap VBScript makes you have to work around.

It's not the same as writing it in a different language with all its associated risks.  It is acting as a preprocessor not an interpreter, and still using the very tried and tested ASP or PHP execution engines.
Friday, September 01, 2006
When does Wasabi ship?  Is this the new product he mentioned a couple month ago?
Friday, September 01, 2006
No. Wasabi is their internal language / code generation tool so they can compile FogBugz into ASP as well as PHP.
Josh McFarlane Send private email
Friday, September 01, 2006
I thought they used Thistle, which is their ASP to PHP compiler?
John Topley Send private email
Friday, September 01, 2006
Well, previous to this posting, what I got was that Thistle was a very restricted VBScript --> PHP (with FogBugz specific hacks to make things translate correctly).

I just assumed Joel replaced Thistle with Wasabi and moved the abstraction out of VBScript, so now they have an intermediate language that is probably very very close to the old code, but can be expanded into whatever language they feel like.

Could be wrong though. =P
Josh McFarlane Send private email
Friday, September 01, 2006

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