Definition

polyglot programming

Contributor(s): Cameron McKenzie

Polyglot programming is the practice of writing code in multiple languages to capture additional functionality and efficiency not available in a single language. The use of domain specific languages (DSLs) has become a standard practice for enterprise application development. For example, a mobile development team might employ Java, JavaScript and HTML5 to create a fully functional application. Other DSLs such as SQL (for data queries), XML (embedded configuration) and CSS (document formatting) are often built into enterprise applications as well. One developer may be proficient in multiple languages, or a team with varying language skills may work together to perform polyglot programming.

Polyglot programming is considered necessary when a single, general-purpose language cannot offer the desired level of functionality or speed, interact properly with the database or the desired delivery platform, or meet end user expectations. Proponents of polyglot programming contend that using the most effective language for each aspect of a program enables faster development, greater comprehension for business stakeholders, and a more optimal end product. However, integrating a wide variety of languages into a single application may entail added complexity. Resource consumption may increase in terms of training, testing and maintenance. Polyglot programming may also make code difficult to deploy if operations is not familiar with the same languages used in development.

This was last updated in September 2015

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