Aviva Directory » Computers & Internet » Programming » Whitespace

This segment of our computer programming language web guide is focused on the Whitespace programming language.

Whitespace is an esoteric programming language developed by Edwin Brady and Chris Morris at the University of Durham.

Released on April 1 (April Fool's Day) of 2003, the language's name is an allusion to whitespace characters. While most programming languages ignore or assign little meaning to most whitespace characters, the Whitespace interpreter ignores non-whitespace characters. Only spaces, tabs, and linefeeds have meaning in Whitespace coding.

Like most esoteric languages, Whitespace was designed for artistic expression, humor, and as an intellectual challenge rather than practical use. The primary design goal of Whitespace was to explore the extreme limits of minimalistic syntax. Through the restriction of the language to whitespace characters, the creators challenged the conventional notions of programming language design.

Its inspiration may have come from Bjarne Stoustrup, the creator of C++. who facetiously suggested the concept about five years before Whitespace came about, taking the idea to the extreme by making it the sole syntax.

Since text and other characters are ignored in Whitespace, they can be used for comments.

An intriguing feature of Whitespace is its ability to create polyglots, which are programs that are valid in multiple languages. Given that Whitespace ignores non-whitespace characters, a Whitespace program can be embedded within the whitespace of another language; thus, a single text could serve as both a valid Python script and a Whitespace program.

Whitespace has no practical utility, however. It won't be powering your web applications, controlling robots, or analyzing data.

Given that the official website for the language is no longer a valid URL (it can be found on the Wayback Machine, however), Whitespace is on its way to being a dead language, although there it still has a GitHub repository with activity within the past few days, so perhaps a Whitespace Community will keep it alive.



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