May 28

This is part 16 in a series of articles on obscure programming languages.

What is Pike?

image Pike is a dynamic programming language with a syntax similar to Java and C.  Pike is easy to learn, does not require long compilation passes, and has powerful built-in data types allowing simple and fast data manipulation.

Pike is released under the GNU GPL, GNU LGPL and MPL, which means you can use it for almost any purpose, commercial and non-commercial.

Pike Design

Unlike many dynamic languages, Pike is both statically and dynamically typed and requires explicit type definitions.  Pike features a flexible type system that allows the rapid development and flexible code of dynamically typed languages, while still providing some of the benefits of a statically typed language.

Pike features garbage collection, automatic memory management, advanced data types, first-class anonymous functions, exception handling, and transparent bignum support.  Pike supports many programming paradigms including object-oriented, functional and imperative programming. 

Pike generates concise, modular code.  Pike has quick, iterative development cycles, alleviating the need for compiling and linking code before you can run it.

Pike History

Pike has its roots in LPC, an object-oriented language developed for multi-user domains (MUDs).  Programmers at Lysator, an academic computer club in Linköping, Sweden — most notably Fredrik Hübinette and Per Hedbor — separated the language and virtual machine from the rest of the MUD driver and used it as a rapid prototyping language for various applications, calling it LPC4.  A new GPL implementation was written in 1994, and the language was renamed Pike in 1996.

Over the years, Roxen Internet Software has employed many Pike developers and provided resources for Pike’s development.  In 2002, Linköping University assumed Pike maintenance from Roxen.  Several Pike programmers joined the Linköping office of Opera Software, where the Pike language is used to develop the server and gateway software for the Opera Mini application.

“Hello, World” in Pike

int main() {
    write("Hello world!n");
    return 0;


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Article published on May 28, 2010

6 Responses to “Pike: Obscure Programming Language of the Month”

  1. Tweets that mention Pike: Obscure Programming Language of the Month -- Says:

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by TechnologyLover and ComputerGeeker, Timm Martin. Timm Martin said: Pike: Obscure Programming Language of the Month – […]

  2. Sean McGlothlin Says:

    Try VGL proprietary language used by Thermo Scientific’s SamaleManager LIMS Software.

    Hello World example:

    flash_message ( “Hello World”, EMPTY )

  3. Dedicated Game Servers | Dedicated Game Servers Says:

    […] Pike: Obscure Programming Language &#959f t&#1211&#1077 Month […]

  4. Ivan the seo expert Says:

    Looks similar to C, but free. Nice 🙂

  5. Copier And Fax Machine - HoBITS Technologies – Danger of Copy Machines Says:

    […] Pike: Obscure Programming Language of the Month […]

  6. Daniël W. Crompton Says:

    I was looking for Pike unit testing, and noticed your post. It’s funny to note you don’t realize that Metro International, one of the worlds biggest newspapers, uses Roxen as their online/offline publishing system. And it’s also used by RTL Netherlands, Coca-Cola, Verizon and Princeton University, among others.

    After BASIC, Assembly, C and some C++ I learned to program in Pike in 1998 and often still use it as a rapid prototyping language. As is common in Open Source there was a split in the community with the web server/platform Roxen build and it continues in two forms Roxen and Caudium.

    It is also taught as a programming language at a number of Higher Education Institutions, including the Hogeschool van Amsterdam.

    Less obscure, more a hidden Gem. 🙂

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