When comparing APL vs Dart, the Slant community recommends Dart for most people. In the question“What is the best programming language to learn first?” Dart is ranked 24th while APL is ranked 66th. The most important reason people chose Dart is:
Dart is a single threaded programming language. So if any piece of code blocks the execution of the program, the program practically freezes. To avoid this Dart makes use of asynchronous operations which let your program run without getting blocked. This is done through Future objects. A Future is an object which represent a means for getting a value at a certain point in the future. A function may invoke a Future and when that happens, two outcomes can be achieved: 1. The function is unable to return a value, so it queues up work to be done and returns an uncompleted Future object. 2. Or later when a value is available to be returned, the Future object completes with that value.
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No complicated loop processing to apply a function to a array of arrays. Functions are defined in a way that they will typically operate the same way on any number of array dimensions. This, along with the clear syntax, leads to very compact code that can be comprehended in a single line, rather than spread out over many pages.
Pro Clear syntax
There is no operator precedence to memorize, as everything is evaluated right-to-left. E.g., in APL 3*10+3 = 39. You do have to type in some otherwise unusual characters, such as ↓ and ∊, but those are easy enough to pick up -- and they have the advantage of being easily remembered once understood, as they often have some connection to common mathematical symbols.
You can seriously implement Conway's Game of Life in one line. There's a reason we do algebra with symbols instead of story problems. APL is good as a language of thought, since you can hold entire algorithms in your head at once.
Pro Great async language support
Dart is a single threaded programming language. So if any piece of code blocks the execution of the program, the program practically freezes. To avoid this Dart makes use of asynchronous operations which let your program run without getting blocked. This is done through Future objects.
A Future is an object which represent a means for getting a value at a certain point in the future. A function may invoke a Future and when that happens, two outcomes can be achieved:
- The function is unable to return a value, so it queues up work to be done and returns an uncompleted Future object.
- Or later when a value is available to be returned, the Future object completes with that value.
Pro Great standard library
Dart includes a truly comprehensive core library, making it unnecessary to include disparate, external resources for basic functionalities Other than reducing the need to pull in various 3rd-party utilities this also ensures that all Dart code looks and feels the same.
Out of the box, the developer gets core libraries to help with: async, collections, strings, regexps, conversions, formats, file I/O, math, typed data, and more.
Pro No compile time in development
Dartium (Chromium derivative) is a browser with integrated Dart VM, which allows you to run and debug native Dart code during development for short edit-reload cycles. Only for testing on other browsers and deployment is transpiling to JS necessary.
Pro A lot of tools are available to help in developing with Dart
Dart has a lot of tools available which help with developing Dart applications. Some examples of those tools include:
- pub - package and dependency management and build tool
- analyzer - static syntax analysis with linter, quick fixes, autocompletion support for easy IDE integration
- test - powerful and flexible testing framework and test runner
- dev_compiler - generate reusable JS instead of tree-shaken minified JS output (work in progress)
- dartfmt_ - source code formatter
- server-side VM
- observatory - a powerful tool for profiling and debugging running Dart code (for Dartium and Dart server code)
In Dart many browser differences (subtle differences and also missing features) are abstracted away or polyfilled. When Dart is transpiled to JS the output works on all supported browsers. There is usually no need to load polyfills or to consider browser differences during development. No need for libraries like jQuery to make the same code work the same on all browsers.
Pro Will be familiar to Java developers
The language will look familiar to Java developers, easing the learning curve.
And yet, while it's similar, it has some nice syntax facilities to avoid common boilerplate code found in Java. Code is terser, yet readable.
Pro Easy prototyping
Dart has an optional type system which makes Dart a great language for prototyping. It encourages developers to gradually evolve their programs without worrying about types first.
Pro Can compile to efficient machine code
Dart was designed to be as expressive as possible. Ahead-of-time compilers can compile Dart code to efficient machine code. This is especially important when deploying to mobile where you don't want (or can't) use a JIT.
Pro AngularDart 2.0 support
Pro Optional strong mode.
Strong mode applies a more restrictive type system to Dart to address its unsound, surprising behavior in certain cases.
Pro Support of semi-coroutines (generators)
Generators, also known as semicoroutines, are also a generalization of subroutines.
Generators are primarily used to simplify the control of iteration behavior of a loop, the
yield statement in a generator passes a value back to a parent routine.
A generator is very similar to a function that returns an array, in that a generator has a certain number of values. But instead of building and returning an array that contains all the wanted values, a generator returns them one at a time, this saves memory and allows the caller function to start processing the first few values immediately.
Con Does not prepare you for most of the practical programming languages of today
While APL does have a strong use in certain areas (mostly mathematically intensive applications), it is a Domain-Specific language. That along with the fact that its syntax is not similar to C-like or other common syntax forms means that learning APL and expecting it to help you with learning other languages is like learning Calculus and expecting it to make English easier.
APL symbols are only used by APL. You have to learn how to type them and how to read them. It doesn't work well with standard text editors , version control systems, search engines, or web forums. This makes it difficult for a beginner to find help.
Con Write-only language
Maybe you can learn to read it with experience. And an interpreter. Reading APL is like reading a college math book. You might have to study a single line for fifteen minutes to understand what it's doing. And that's if you're an expert at APL. This also applies if you wrote it yourself more than a month ago. hopefully you have comments.
Con Flawless diamond
You can't extend the language itself. (J does this better.) Of course, what's built in is quite powerful.
Con Dart SDK does not provide standard (out of the box) way to access SQL-based databases on server side
This missing (but very popular) feature requires to use 3rd-party packages developed by the personal enthusiasts or very small groups of enthusiasts, which is not very convenient because they are all very fragmented in terms of content, the essence and capabilities.
Con Small community, little momentum