XML is not a Programming Language, Ohloh!

One of the open source projects I created is rbKarel, the REALbasic version of Karel the Robot, which uses its RBScript built-in scripting environment to provide the Karel interpreter.

This was indexed at Ohloh and shows why it is such a dumb idea to claim XML is a programming language. Ohloh now asserts with some appearance of authority that the source code has few comments and makes other discouraging claims. Mild slander on what is now the top hit for rbKarel in Google 🙁

I assume Ohloh’s report about the comments is because the XML serialisation of REALbasic source doesn’t contain any XML comments. The actual source code comments are invisible to Ohloh. It also has more detailed statistics on the number of lines of source code, which are completely bogus.

A much better approach would be to confess to ignorance, instead of saying:

  • Mostly written in XML
  • Very few source code comments

They should say unrecognised source format or, if they wanted to show off, source appears to be stored in XML, unknown programming language.

The other thing which annoys me about Ohloh’s judgement is that it doesn’t really cater for mature, stable software that is moved to an open-source repository. Such software appears to have little version history and may have few commits, making it look like a piece of alpha-level abandonware. They do have one redeeming feature in this regard, allowing you to enter an arbitrary start date for the project rather than solely being stuck with the automated analysis.

This all wouldn’t have irritated me so much but I was reminded of that page recently by a Google Alert for “Andy Dent”  and found that a search for rbKarel now hits them first, meaning this slightly slanderous page is what people will read and possibly not bother trying the actual program! After all, if the most popular page on the web about something implies it’s poorly maintained and lacking comments, why bother?