I was reading recently about the (slow) adoption of object oriented programming languages in the embedded world. There is quite a sad situation, while in the mainstream, OOP languages are pretty much a standard, in the embedded world, they are just starting to show up, why?

The problem is not the lack of say C++ compilers or Java environments for the architectures used in the embedded world, it is more a matter of dealing with the runtime overhead and code bloating often produced by those solutions. But independently from the language of your choice, not all OOP is bad (as in bloating and runtime heavy…) there are some constructs in each language that are worse than others.

Ben L. Titzer, Jens Palsberg and other researchers at UCLA have been working for years on the subject and they have distilled a list of good and “bad” features that impact so much more heavily the typical embedded application. Their recipe, a new language called “Virgil“, designed from the ground up to provide you with the best of OOP without the worst of OOP.

Virgil is compiled to native (like C++) but is also strongly typed (like Java) and shares a syntax that is certainly familiar to programmers of both origin. There are also provisions for low level management including interrupt handling, special function registers and bit manipulation!

The only problem is that new languages’ adoption is always very slow, even when there are strong sponsors… (anybody used “GO” recently?), so if we wanted to accelerate the adoption of OOP, introducing a new language is not exactly a quick option…

Nonetheless, take a look at Virgil and see if you like what it has to offer…

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