James Clark presents Ballerina, a cloud-native programming language

Oct 25, 2021 · San Francisco, United States of America

Ballerina (http://ballerina.io) is a new programming language which originates in the world of enterprise integration. Ballerina is intended for writing small-to-medium sized programs that produce and consume network services. This talk will focus on Ballerina's type system, which has an unusual combination of features designed to support Ballerina's intended use cases.

Types in Ballerina are used to describe not only data and functions that are internal to a program but also data on the wire exchanged between network services, which may be written in other languages. The type system uses semantic subtyping, as pioneered by XDuce and CDuce: the programmer can think of types as being sets of values and can think of the subtype relationship as being the subset relationship between the corresponding sets. Ballerina is designed to feel familiar to programmers with experience of any of the popular C-family languages, such as Java or JavaScript, and accordingly Ballerina supports mutation in the same style as those languages. Compromises are required to combine semantic subtyping with this style of mutation. The type system also provides a foundation that allows the language to provide both safe concurrency and mutable shared state.

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