New programming language launched

Beaumaris Castle

I'm pleased to say that the research group working on programming languages at Sun has taken the step of open sourcing the first release of their new programming language, Fortress. We debated the license to use for the language and settled on using BSD, a permissive class A license, so that the widest possible community - Free software people, academics and commercial researchers - would be free to co-evolve the language and its implementation with us.

Fortress is not for everyone. It's designed with high-performance computing (read: grid) in mind, and to quote the FAQ:

Fortress is a new language. Although many of its features are inspired by existing languages, it isn't an extension of any of them. Syntactically, many Fortress expressions closely resemble mathematical notation.
But by releasing it with full source code on day one, I hope that the widest possible community will be able to form around it and make it into all it can be.

Comments:

Not that much different to Rexx then... nice. Welcome to the 1980s! At least its not more psuedo-science c-like syntax. Java, bah humbug.

Posted by Mark Cathcart on January 13, 2007 at 11:49 AM PST #

What factors led to Fortress being licensed under BSD while Java was licensed under GPL? I'm not trying to make a point by asking the question - I really don't know but would like to.

Posted by Bill Higgins on January 17, 2007 at 08:53 PM PST #

Bill: The decision surrounding the Java platform was very complex due to the huge developer and user communities. I was able to make a case for every open source license, and each came complete with benefits and disadvantages. In the end we picked GPL as the initial FOSS license because of the synergy it created between the GNU/Linux and Java communities.

Fortress, on the other hand, is a brand new language, still at the stage of being very 'soft' and open to direction. By using BSD as the initial license, we allow even companies hostile to the GPL (and that includes certain very large corporations that shall remain nameless but claim to support FOSS) to join the conversation about what direction Fortress should take.

We've written about licensing philosophy in a white paper. The priority for Fortress is to "create a market" for the new langauge, and by the terms of the white paper a "class A" license is best for that. BSD is such a license. I'm not doctrinaire about license choices. Sun selects the right license for the project and its objectives. I think we made the right choice in both of the cases you cite.

Posted by Simon Phipps on January 17, 2007 at 09:16 PM PST #

Thanks for that. Your categorization scheme is very useful for understanding the various licensing options.

Posted by Bill Higgins on January 17, 2007 at 10:41 PM PST #

Thanks for Fortress, Sun and Simon. This will help in solving the concurrent programming wall that we as a species have now reached.

Posted by serge on January 21, 2007 at 03:48 AM PST #

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