Microsoft Looks Sharp with F#
Visual Studio is adding another native programming language in the form of
F#, a typed functional programming language originally developed by Microsoft
Research in Cambridge, England.
When Soma Somasegar revealed Microsoft's F# plans on
his blog, it signaled an important step forward for Redmond. As corporate
VP of the Developer Division at Microsoft, Somasegar has been keen on the benefits
of functional programming, which promises to free coders to tap the power of
advanced, multi-core processors and expansive grid computing networks.
With the introduction of F#, developers will gain access to a functional programming
language in Visual Studio that's fully compatible with the .NET object model
and libraries, and plays well with other .NET languages and resources like WPF
"This is one of the best things that has happened at Microsoft ever since
we created Microsoft Research over 15 years ago," Somasegar wrtes in his
blog entry. "We will be partnering with Don Syme and others in Microsoft
Research to fully integrate the F# language into Visual Studio and continue
innovating and evolving F#."
In his own
blog, Microsoft researcher Syme writes:
Looking ahead, we'll be initially focused on putting the finishing touches
on "V1" of the language design, improving the compiler, tools and
Visual Studio project system, completing the language specification and augmenting
F# with the libraries and tools needed to make it truly powerful in application
areas particularly suited to functional programming.
This is exciting stuff, frankly, even if it won't immediately change the day-to-day
jobs of most .NET developers. With F#, Microsoft is setting the direction toward
the future of programming, one defined by multi-core processors, grid-enabled
applications and intelligent abstraction. During an earlier
interview, Microsoft Fellow Anders Hejlsberg gave us an idea of what he
expected down the road:
There was once a hope you could just type "/parallel" in your
compiler and it could take advantage of multiple processors. Well no, unfortunately
that's not panning out. You need to write your program in a different way
that is more amenable to execution by smarter infrastructure. And declarative
programming and functional programming are probably the best candidates today
for really taking advantage of all of that multi-core power we are getting.
What do you think of the addition of F#? And what new languages or other changes
would you like to see Microsoft add to .NET and Visual Studio? E-mail me at
Posted by Michael Desmond on 10/31/2007 at 1:15 PM