Skip to content
Branch: master
Find file Copy path
Fetching contributors…
Cannot retrieve contributors at this time
92 lines (75 sloc) 4.86 KB

The Philosophy of the Programming Language Objective-C (JX)

Core Philosophy

Objects [are] like biological cells, or individual computers on a network, able to communicate with messages.

Dr. Alan C. Kay, father of the Kayian School of object-orientation and inventor of the legendary SmallTalk programming language.

Objective-C (JX) is, thus, an Object Oriented language with the capital O. This does not preclude functionality associated with other schools of language design. Being a language built atop the foundation of C, it is possible to write as much C in procedural-imperative form inline as desired. Blocks act as the lambda expressions of functional languages, and methods are provided in Object Kit that resemble typically-functional forms, such as collect:, which is akin to map(), or select:, akin to filter().

To describe JXobjC then as an object-oriented and functional language is not 'wrong' so to speak. It does, however, miss the point. JXobjC is not a collection of paradigms acting as means to an end. The design is an end unto itself. The object is to provide a language human in its nature, well-adapted to the common understanding of all people, regardless of their local culture.

This is not a goal in-line with many traditionalist approaches to programming language design, though it does imply the use of some such techniques pioneered there. Our goal is not to make a friendlier code, but to abolish it.

Radical Humanism

In the age of the individual's liquidation, the question of individuality must be raised anew.

Theodor W. Adorno, leading critical theorist of the Frankfurt School (may he rest in peace.)

The programmer today is an alienated being. The trade is unique in its ideology; one hears a claim that "programming must be taught in primary school," and moments later, that "not everyone is able to program, and that's simply the nature of things." Programmers at once complain about being overworked and underpaid, and decry unionisation.

Perhaps this contradictory nature in tech has some relation to the modern trend of the programming language as an oppressor and terrorist of the programmer, the compiler as super-ego, destroying hopes and dreams in a flurry of type mismatches, imposing upon the programmer firmly its own opinion on what they ought to be doing.

Objective-C (JX) stands firmly opposed to this trend of deprecating the human, bestowing upon the compiler God-like powers to offend the user. The purpose of JXobjC is to facilitate the realisation of the programmer's dreams. The creative energy of the programmer must not be impeded, and suggestions are to be made without unwilling imposition of them.

Further, there is a trend in programming languages to restrict the user not only in technical meaning-form, but even in style, in aesthetic. Some languages even so far as to impose specific bracketing styles on the user! JXobjC does not now and never will endorse such measures, which serve to alienate the programmer from their individuality, turning them into a cog in a machine instead.


Instead of the bit-grinding processor brutalising data structures, we have a universe of well-behaved objects that courteously ask each other to carry out their desires.

Daniel H. Ingalls, of Xerox PARC, a lead contributor to SmallTalk.

In line with the humanist vision outlined, Objective-C (JX) utilises the model of computation that grew in Xerox's PARC in the development of SmallTalk. The programmer no longer is forced to set out demands on how they wish to do all they say, but is able to instead guide the autonomous Objects in their actions, outlining what they want, rather than how.

The object is not a mere abstract data-type, but an autonomous actor, an individual. It does not have 'functions invoked' upon it, but receives messages. This is an essential aspect of the Kayian object-orientation. It is a reproduction of human society. The object, like a person, is not an open box ready to be leered at or manipulated. It is to be communicated with. The programme forms a micro-society.

The messaging forms the key component of the Kayian late-binding. All functionality may change. The compiler does not destroy the messages, turning them into lookups at pre-calculated offsets, but asks the object to respond to a message instead. This allows for the object to alter how it responds to a message.

As a practical example, this is used in the Key-Value Observing feature, which allows an object to request another object to let it know when some property of it changes. A variation of the property setting message implementation is swapped-in when an object asks to observe another, and this then performs the notifying as necessary. When the object is not observed, no such efforts are expended in deciding whether other objects should be notified.

You can’t perform that action at this time.