Bradshaw’s laws

:: programming, lisp

There are two laws.

The laws

  1. All sufficiently large software systems end up being programming languages.
  2. Whenever you think the point is at which the first law will apply, it will apply before that.

Implications of the laws

When building software systems you should design them as programming langages. You should do this however small you think they will be. In order to make this practical for small systems you should therefore use a language which allows seamless extension into other languages with insignificant zero-point cost.

But because the laws are not widely known, most large software systems are built without understanding that what is being built is in fact a programming language. Because people don’t know they are building a programming language, don’t know how to build programming languages, and do not use languages which make the seamless construction of programming languages easy, the languages they build are usually terrible: they are hard to use, have opaque and inconsistent semantics and are almost always insecure.