I am in Portland for OOPSLA / SPLASH, a conference that is my sentimental favorite. I think my first OOPSLA was in New Orleans circa 1990 and OOPSLA Vancouver 92 is filled with memories (mostly because Tina came and we dove Orcas Island in wetsuits).

OOPSLA is traditionally the big academic conference for programming language theory and implementation. When I was a magazine editor and track chair for the Software Development Conferences, OOPSLA is where I trolled for new fish — concepts and writers that were ready for trade exposure. That’s no longer my business, and I wonder if I’ll get the same thrill from attending that I used to.

The program looks promising and I’ve just spent a few hours going over the papers in the proceedings DVD (no more phonebook-sized proceedings to bow the bookshelves, but I’m sure I can still steal some article ideas…).

I’m happy by the late addition of talks by Gilad Bracha and Lars Bak on Dart, the new programming language from Google. I’m unabashedly a fan of Bracha’s NewSpeak and the one time I heard Bak talk, I said he was “dynamite….Concrete, informed, impressive….” so I’m favorably disposed to like their language, even if it does have null (and not just have it, but

In Dart, all uninitialized variables have the value null, regardless of type. Numeric variables in particular are therefore best explicitly initialized; such variables will not be initialized to 0 by default.

Which strikes me as flat-out crazy, reiterating Tony Hoare’s “Billion-Dollar Mistake.”
Early reaction to Dart has been pretty harsh, it will be interesting to discuss it in-person (where the tone will be 1000x more reasonable and respectful than on the Internet).