application development language

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application development language

[‚ap·lə′kā·shən di′vel·əp·mənt ‚laŋ·gwij]
(computer science)
A very-high-level programming language that generates coding in a conventional programming language or provides the user of a data-base management system with a programming language that is easier to implement than conventional programming languages.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

programming language

A language used to write instructions for the computer. It lets the programmer express data processing in a symbolic manner without regard to machine-specific details.

From Source Code to Machine Language
The statements written by the programmer are called "source code," which are translated into the computer's "machine language" by programs called "assemblers," "compilers" and "interpreters." For example, when a programmer writes ADD A TO B, ADD is turned into machine code for add, and A and B are the locations in RAM where the two amounts are temporarily stored.

Grammar and Syntax
Like human languages, each programming language has its own grammar and syntax, and there can be dialects, each requiring its own assemblers and compilers. Standards have been set by ANSI for many languages. However, it can take a long time for new features to be standardized, and new dialects spring up all the time. See program logic.

Assemblers, Compilers and Interpreters
For each CPU hardware platform, there is a low-level assembly language that generates machine language one for one. High-level languages (what most programmers write in) use compilers that generate many machine instructions for each source code statement the programmer writes (see compiler). There are also programming languages that are translated into machine language one statement at a time each time they run (see interpreter).

Source Code

  Assembly Language  Machine Language
  Compare A to B     Compare 3477 2883
  If equal go to C   If = go to 23732
  Go to D            Go to 23119

  Machine Code

Major Programming Languages
Following is a brief summary of noteworthy languages. See also client/server development system.

Programming language for Flash programs. See Flash and ActionScript.

Comprehensive, Pascal-based language used by the Department of Defense. See Ada.

International language for expressing algorithms. See ALGOL.

Used for statistics and mathematical matrices. Requires special keyboard symbols. See APL.

Developed as a timesharing language in the 1960s. It has been widely used in microcomputer programming in the past, and various dialects of BASIC have been incorporated into many different applications. Microsoft's Visual Basic is widely used. See BASIC and Visual Basic.

Programming with interlocking graphic elements. See visual programming.

Developed in the 1970s at AT&T. Widely used to develop operating systems and commercial applications. Unix was the first OS written in C. C++ (C plus plus) is the object-oriented version of C that is popular because it combines objects with traditional C programming syntax. See C.

Pronounced "C-sharp." A Microsoft .NET language based on C++ with elements from Visual Basic and Java. See .NET Framework.

A dialect of LISP geared to multithreading. See Clojure.

Developed in the 1960s. Widely used for mini and mainframe programming. See COBOL.

A more readable version of JavaScript. See CoffeeScript.

A superset of the Python language, combining syntax from Python and C. See Cython.

Web-based programming language from Google. Introduced in 2011, Dart was touted to provide greater performance for Web applications than JavaScript but has been used mostly by Google. See Dart.

Widely used in the past for business applications. See dBASE Plus.

Functional language modeled after and specialized for concurrent processing. See Erlang.

esoteric languages
A family of programming languages created to push the envelope. See esoteric programming language.

Pronounced "F-sharp." A Microsoft .NET scripting language based on ML. See F#.

Developed in the 1960s, FORTH has been used in process control and game applications. See FORTH.

Developed in 1954 by IBM, it was the first major scientific programming language and continues to be widely used. Some commercial applications have been developed in FORTRAN. See FORTRAN.

Object-oriented language styled after C/C++ from Google. Go was made public in 2012. See Go.

Java-based language that simplifies various functions. See Groovy.

Pure functional programming language developed in the 1990s. See Haskell.

With Version 5, HTML became an official programming language because it formalized the use of JavaScript programming. See HTML5 and HTML.

The programming language developed by Sun and repositioned for Web use. It is widely used on the server side, although client applications are also used. See Java.

The de facto scripting language on the Web. JavaScript is embedded into billions of HTML pages, and it was formalized as part of HTML5. See JavaScript.

Microsoft's version of JavaScript. Used in ASP programs. See JScript.

A programming language designed for financial analysis and other numerical computations. See Julia.

A versatile language that compiles into Java bytecode and native machine languages. Google endorsed for Android development. See Kotlin.

Developed in 1960. Used for AI applications. Its syntax is very different than other languages. See LISP.

Cross-platform, interpreted language that generates Mac, Windows, Linux, iOS and Android apps from the same source code. See LiveCode.

Developed in the 1960s, it was noted for its ease of use and "turtle graphics" drawing functions. See Logo.

Fast, lightweight scripting language that runs on Windows, Unix/Linux and smartphone platforms. See Lua.

Originally MUMPS (Massachusetts Utility MultiProgramming System), it includes its own database. It is widely used in medical applications. See M.

A programming language that spawned OCaml and F#. See ML.

Enhanced version of Pascal introduced in 1979. See Modula-2.

A version of C used to program Mac and iOS apps. See Objective-C.

A dialect of the ML language family that is used for industrial strength applications. See OCaml.

A language for programmable network devices. See P4.

Originally an academic language developed in the 1970s. Borland commercialized it with its Turbo Pascal. See Pascal.

A scripting language used on the Web to write CGI scripts. See Perl.

Widely used server-side language embedded in Web pages along with HTML. A major Web language. See PHP.

Developed in France in 1973. Used throughout Europe and Japan for AI applications. See Prolog.

A scripting language used for AI applications, system utilities and Internet scripts. Developed in Amsterdam by Guido van Rossum. See Python.

Runs on IBM mainframes and OS/2. Used as a general-purpose macro language. See REXX.

Offers memory-safe features with low-level control. See Rust.

A Java-like language that runs in a Java Virtual Machine (JVM). See Scala.

Visual programming for developing animations. See Scratch.

An Apple language that adds features to Objective-C. See Swift.

A superset of JavaScript that flags errors. See TypeScript.

Subset of Visual Basic used on the Web similar to JavaScript. See VBScript.

Visual Basic
Version of BASIC for Windows programming from Microsoft that has been widely used. See Visual Basic.

Visual FoxPro
A dBASE language and development system from Microsoft. See Visual FoxPro.

Web Languages
Languages such as JavaScript, Jscript, Perl and CGI are used to automate Web pages as well as link them to other applications running in servers.

Even More Languages!

Programmers must use standard names for the instruction verbs (add, compare, etc.), and companies generally use standard names for the data in their databases. However, programmers "make up" names for the functions (subroutines) in their own programs, and they make up dozens of them, essentially creating their own language. But since they dislike documenting their code, the readability of that language is critical.

Just Make It Up!
Unless naming conventions are enforced or pair programming is used, whereby one person looks over the shoulders of the other, programmers can make up names that make no sense whatsoever. The bane of programmers is having to modify someone else's program that has unclear names and few comments. It often requires tracing the logic one statement at a time.

In fact, if programmers use careless naming, they can have a miserable time reading their own code later. See pair programming, programmer, to the recruiter and naming fiascos.

No Language, Just Wires
In 1946, the ENIAC was programmed by plugging wires from one socket to another. That led to the plugboards on tabulating machines and later to programming languages. See tabulator and Hollerith machine. (Image courtesy of Rare Book & Manuscript Library, University of Pennsylvania.)
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