F# Programming Language: History, Benefits and Future Possibilities

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F Sharp

Nescient developers might make the mistake of pronouncing the name as F ‘Hash’ but that will earn a few scornful eyes from the adept ones in the developer’s community. F Sharp (because the # is pronounced as Sharp) is an open-source, strongly typed, multi-paradigm programming language. The multi-paradigm programming language is inclusive of functional, imperative and Object-Oriented Programming

Every programming language can fall into one of the two categories; strongly typed and weakly typed.

Strongly typed languages have highly obstinate regulations at compile time, implying that errors and exceptions are more likely to occur. Majority of these regulations affects return values, variable assignments, and function calling.

While weakly typed language is the opposite and has loose typing rules that can hail unpredictable outcomes or may cause implicit type conversion at runtime.

Multi-Paradigm refers to the support of more than one programming paradigm to allow programmers to select the most suitable programming style and associated language constructs for a given project.

It is often used as a cross-platform CLI (Common Language Infrastructure) and can also generate JavaScript and GPU (Graphics Processing Unit) code.

It is developed by F# Software Foundation and Microsoft along with other open contributors.

Brief History

Programming Misconceptions

F# first came into being in 2005 when it was developed by Microsoft Research. Initially, it was a .NET (pronounced as Dot Net) implementation of OCaml since it combined the power and syntax of functional language with thousands of library functions available with .NET languages.

Since 2005, F# has gone through many needed changes and developers made various versions that made it better than the first one. Launching under Apache license, made the programming language an open sourced which meant that it can be modified, distributed and used without paying to the original developers.

The first version launched in 2005 was only compatible with Windows and deployed a .NET 1.0 to 3.5 runtime. The narrow platform base was the biggest weakness of this version. The issue was tackled in the next version that was developed with the addition of both OS X and Linux to the supported platforms in version 2.0 that was launched in 2010.
In 2012, F# saw the addition of JavaScript and GPU in the supported platforms. The latest version was launched in 2015 which was 4.0.

Future of F#

Visual Studio Code

Many people claim that F# is one of the most unpopular, underestimated and under-represented programming languages. But there is another side to the story. According to StackOverflow. F# has been voted the language associated with the highest paying salary globally.

The same survey shows that F# doesn’t appear in the top 25 programming languages used across the globe. The language remains on the fringe despite having a really active community.

But why do developers love to work with F# if it’s so unpopular? Created and maintained by Don Syme, F# has been comparatively resilient to some of the assumed over-complications that similar FP languages have adopted such as Scala. This resistance maintains accessibility for developers from the outside world who might be interested in dabbling in functional programming.

F# has been of excellent use when it comes to data-driven and domain driven development. Now it can also be compiled into JavaScript which is the world’s most popular languages. With this link secure, it also has access to JavaScript’s extensive libraries and base of devices.

F# has made its mark when it came to Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, and associated Data Analysis. It was the very purpose of the creation of F#. Due to the immense scale and expected influence, Artificial Intelligence will have on language ecosystems and tech in general, having a language so well suited to development places in it a strong position to grow fast and even challenge popular languages like JavaScript and Python in the future.

What is Stopping F#’s Growth?

growth

Though it seems like a harsh fact to digest, the blame for this is mainly attributed to its creators, which is Microsoft. They have restricted the popularity of F# letting C# flourish out there. Microsoft has made F# inferior to C#.

There is a cyclic motion to it. Few jobs exist for F# because there are few F# developers out there and there are less F# developers out there because there are less F# jobs exist out there. But slowly but surely, this trend is changing.

Jet.com was the first major company to adopt the usage of F#. Later on, Kaggle and many financial and insurance companies followed as well.

The developers of F# lack attempts to make it more popular and with features as a multi-paradigm language that is used greatly in AI, the best thing to do is to focus on the core benefits of F# which are shorter runtimes, fewer bugs, and higher productivity. If promoted by highlighting these features, it might help F# climb the ladder of popularity faster than before.

Does F# Really Hold any Advantage Over C#?

Benefits

Already familiar with C#? Then learn How To Program Your Own Breakout Game using C#.

  • F# makes many common programming tasks simpler. This entails things like creating and using complex type definitions, doing list processing, state machines, equality and comparison, and much more.
  • Devoid of semicolons, curly brackets and such, in F# you almost never have to specify the type of an object due to the presence of a powerful type inference system. It also takes fewer lines of codes to solve that issue as well
  • F# is a functional language, but it does support other styles which aren’t completely pure, making it much easier to interact with the non-pure realm of databases, websites and so on. In particular, F# is designed as a functional hybrid/OO language, so it is able to do everything as C#. Even though F# seamlessly integrates with the .NET ecosystem which allows you to access all the third parties .NET tools and libraries.
  • F# is part of Visual Studio which allows you to get a good editor with an IntelliSense support, a debugger and many plugins for unit tests, source control, and other development tasks.

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