New Java logo, Ruby style! (a few thoughts on programming language marketing)

Java on Ruby!

No, I’m not proposing my brand new Java logo replace the latest one from Sun. As a matter of fact it’s hardly a good logo, and seems more like a book cover, but for some reason a very similar logo (the one mine is based on) was selected as the official one for Ruby.

Ruby logo

People are being a bit harsh on the thread from that last link, but yeah the logo they selected is not that great. Maybe it would make an OK book cover, but you would expect something a bit simpler and more visually appealing. Also was it really necessary to put “programming language” as part of the logo? That just looks bizarre.

But the reaction is interesting. Judging on the responses of that and other threads, developers seem to be very passionate about programming language logos. More specifically, it seems people get excited about how their favorite language gets marketed!

Which brings me to my next topic; programming language marketing.

I don’t remember much marketing activity around Ada, Pascal or even C. When Java came out, you could tell things were a little bit different. The language (or platform if you want to see it that way) had a logo, a slogan and even a mascot! Heck, I can even remember a Duke comic book I got at a conference once.

I’m noticing a similar thing with Ruby. The interesting thing is that it seems this is much more of a grass roots effort. Were the Java marketing was part of a corporate strategy, Ruby’s marketing is not orchestrated by an army of marketroids but by a good number of bloggers, dedicated advocacy sites, online books, Flash video demos and even parody YouTube videos.

However there’s always the danger of over marketing and over hyping technologies (something many accused Sun of doing with Java), which can result in turning people off. Often the marketing gets annoying, a bit arrogant, or extremely obnoxious. But to be fair, Scott McNealy would often go over board with his advocacy too, so this is not unique to Ruby. Speaking of annoying, Adobe thank you for not showing the Flex Bruce Eckel ads on every Java site all the time anymore.

It’ll be interesting to see what the Ruby adoption is in a few more years, right now it’s a very vocal yet relatively small community. When we talk about the next great computer languages, hopefully we’ll all be deciding based on technical merits, but it seems that today if you want a language to be successful you just can’t ignore the marketing side of things anymore.

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