FortranSun recently released an open source prototype of the Fortress programming language & interpreter. What is Fortress? Well, if you’re using Fortran, Sun hopes you’ll use Fortress instead (in the future, since Fortress is still a prototype).

Fortran you say? Yep, it’s still in widespread use for mathematical applications. And yes, IBM still makes a tidy sum on Fortran. While I’ve never written a Fortran program, I do remember flipping past one in a third year Statics textbook in my Civil engineering days.

Anywho, back to Fortress. Considering that Sun put their Java ME, SE and EE implementations under the GPL(v2), it’s somewhat surprising to see Fortress under a BSD-license. Sun’s chief open source officer, Simon Phipps explains:

“We debated the license to use for the language and settled on using BSD, a permissive class A license, so that the widest possible community – Free software people, academics and commercial researchers – would be free to co-evolve the language and its implementation with us.”

Good on you for taking an open community approach.
Not sure how Fortress will compare to GNU Fortran. On first glance, the fact that Fortress lets you write mathematical expressions seems to be a (nice) difference. Will Sun reach out to the GNU Fortran folks and attempt to bring them into the Fortress community?