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JavaOne 2009 Script Bowl Call for Proposals

Posted by robc on April 13, 2009 at 12:14 PM PDT

JavaOne 2008 conference attendees and loyal readers of my blog may remember the first edition of the Script Bowl. In it, representatives of four scripting languages vied to get the most votes from the audience by extolling the virtues of their creations, all while avoiding getting incinerated by the scathing comments from the highly combustible judges. (Just kidding, it was all very civilized.)

Well, we're doing it again this year! It's session PAN-5348, "Script Bowl 2009: A Scripting Languages Shootout". This year, we have representatives from five communities: Tom Enebo (JRuby), Rich Hickey (Clojure), Guillaume Laforge (Groovy), Martin Odersky (Scala), Frank Wierzbicki (Jython). Before I get any hate mail, I should state that we're using the term "scripting language" loosely; mostly, we like the name "Script Bowl" better than "Languages-other-than-Java-on-the-JVM Bowl", so don't read too much into it.

With the increase of participants to five, we had to cut down the number of rounds from three to two. The two rounds are: one assigned task, with the participants showing how their language makes it faster/easier/better to carry out the assignment, and one free task in which they can highlight any cool features/apps they want. We fully expect panelists to enlist their respective communities to help with these tasks ahead of the conference. After all, the enthusiasm and competence of its community are essential ingredients in making a programming language successful.

This brings me to the goal of this blog entry. Last year we had as an assigned task writing a Twitter client -- we like to think we anticipated the fad of writing Twitter clients in all possible languages and platforms by a month or two. This year, I'd like to poll my blog's audience to suggest tasks: if you think you have an idea for a task for our panelists, just leave a comment on this blog entry in the next couple of weeks.

To help with the submissions, here are a few tips: first of all, panelists will only have about five minutes each to show their solutions to the audience. Ideally, we'd like something that the audience knows already or that can be explained very quickly, so as to leave as much time as possible to go over the specifics of each solution. Naturally, the task should be relevant to present-day programming: if you had to decide which of the five languages to use for your next project, what would impress you the most? Finally, it'd be nice for the task to leave room to showcase some cool/advanced functionality and yet be unbiased to any specific language.

Please leave your suggestions as comments and help us make the Script Bowl 2009 informative and entertaining for the audience. I hope to see you at JavaOne in June!


Awesome lineup. Should be great! We're doing a vaguely similar language shoot-out at the St. Louis Lambda Lounge ( at our next meeting and we're using a Vending Machine idea as the problem. It's not particularly sexy but it's easy to spec and and get a feel for how a language handles state (inventory, money) and logic (making change). We haven't had the actual meeting yet but people are actively implementing it in Groovy, Ruby, Haskell, Fan, Clojure, Python, Perl 5, Squeak, Ocaml, F#, and Erlang. So far comments on its suitability have been favorable. You can find my intentionally under-specified spec here: In particular, I under-specified the notion of how you interact with the machine so that you could use a GUI, command-line, tests, REST, whatever.

BTW, any reason you don't just open it up to "JVM Bowl"?

I vote for the "Snake Game": And, of course, it needs a report showing 100% unit test coverage. Can we get the produced code open-sourced onto a project somewhere?