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When is something language agnostic? Why is it called that way?

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Shed Shaw is bringing it back so try to get him to answer. –  davidk01 Dec 21 '10 at 4:00
I think it should really be called language polytheism since the belief is that there is more than one path to getting something done. –  chrisaycock Dec 21 '10 at 4:28
Try English forum too, you will get some answers. Joining the answers in that forum and in this forum will give you good idea. –  Manoj R Dec 21 '10 at 5:39
Pseudo Code is Language Agnostic. –  Sicarius Noctis Apr 2 '11 at 9:13
@muntoo, pseudo code itself is a language. –  SK-logic Apr 2 '11 at 9:58

4 Answers 4

up vote 19 down vote accepted

Language agnostic refers to aspects of programming that are independent of any specific programming language. At least, that's how I've heard it used for the last thirty years.

The world "agnostic" is derived from the ancient Greek for "don't know". So something which is "language agnostic" doesn't need to know about computer languages; it means the same thing as language independent. Things that would be language agnostic include algorithms, or Agile, or a runtime library with bindings to many languages.

Some Mac OS X features are not language agnostic, because they're really designed to be used from Objective C, can only be used with difficulty from C or C++, and don't even have bindings for many languages.

There can also be a subtext to using "language agnostic" rather than other terms.

In colloquial English, someone who says they're "agnostic" means they are neither religious nor an atheist: they "don't know" about God. This is usually verbal code for "I don't like to talk about religion, so don't try to convert me."

So sometimes when people talk about being "language agnostic", they're trying to stay out of arguments about what computer language is better.

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BTW, agnostic comes from "a" (not) + "gnosis" (knowledge). Other words like it are "atheist" and "atypical". –  Bob Murphy Dec 21 '10 at 5:31
Yep I've always taken it as a reference to the fact the language wars are basically religious wars: language-agnostic techniques/advice/concepts avoid the holy war. –  Carson63000 Dec 21 '10 at 5:42

I haven't heard the term before, however, I would assume it means learning aspects of programming that are independent of any specific programming language.

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why is it called that way? –  Louis Rhys Dec 21 '10 at 4:57
That's pretty much the way I've heard it used for the last thirty years. –  Bob Murphy Dec 21 '10 at 4:57
I'm removing this response to post it as an answer. –  Bob Murphy Dec 21 '10 at 5:06
@bob: agreed. but where is the answer? –  Louis Rhys Dec 21 '10 at 5:26
@Louis Rhys: Sorry, took me a few minutes to write it correctly. It's up. –  Bob Murphy Dec 21 '10 at 5:29

Paradigms or features that aren't applied to only one language.

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When a solution is called "language-agnostic" you are literally saying that your solution "doesn't believe in" languages, meaning its universal or independent from language specifics (paradigms, language idioms, etc).

For example, design patterns are language-agnostic, because the way they are described the specific implementation doesn't matter as long it sticks to the whole or a subset of the pattern (v.gr. some design patterns can be implemented without OOP).

UML is language-agnostic, BPMN is language-agnostic, ERM is language-agnostic. An algorithm in pseudo-code is language agnostic...

Anything that is meant to be programmed but not described in a specific language can be called language-agnostic.

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