Introducing Modula-3

One of the main tenets of the Unix philosophy is using the right tool for the right job. Here is a well-crafted tool well-suited for many large jobs that are diffficult to do well in C.
Some Personal Experiences with Modula-3

Our group has been using Modula-3 for about six months now, although I have been involved with it since 1989 or so. Our group consists of experienced C/C++ programmers. Two of have been involved with C++ since version 1.2 and two of us worked on the implementation of a C/C++ programming environment.

Our experience with Modula-3 has been completely positive. The group members feel that the language, libraries, and supporting tools have made us far more productive than we were when using C++. The libraries are of higher quality and have better documentation than many commercially available libraries. To accomplish a given task, we write considerably less code than we used to and we believe the code is of higher quality. We attribute this to two things. The first is that the language is clean and simple; far less mental effort is required to understand how to accomplish something. The second contributing factor is much heavier use of libraries. Instead of writing some piece of functionality, we first see if the standard libraries provide it or something close to it. Most of the time we find something close enough that we can take it as a starting point.

On a more personal level, I have rarely seen a language, tools, and set of libraries that so neatly combined simplicity, elegance, and power.


Modula-3 and the implementation from SRC provides an excellent basis for developing Linux applications. It is a system designed to meet the programming challenges of the '90s. The language is clean, simple, and powerful. The provided libraries are almost unequalled. The support for distributed programming is among the best available.

One way to think of Modula-3 and the SRC implementation is bringing a “NeXTStep-like” environment to Linux. They both start with a simple object-oriented language (though M3 is both safer and more powerful) and build useful and sophisticated libraries on top of it. Of course, Modula-3 has the advantage of being freely available and running on Linux!

Geoff Wyant ( is a researcher in distributed systems with SunMicrosystems Laboratories. In his past, he has built programming environments for C++, worked on distributed file systems and RPC systems, and hacked operating systems kernels.



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