Why was Ten created?

I’ll be honest, I wrote Ten because it seemed like a fun project; I was curious about how other scripting languages were implemented, and wondered if I could create my own. That’s it.

But that doesn’t mean Ten is just a ‘toy language’, it boasts some powerful features not present in other languages targeting the same niche (think Lua, Wren, etc.) and has some pretty neat aesthetics designed for minimalism and consistency.

Where should Ten be used?

There’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all programming language, or if there is then I’ve never heard of it; and it certainly isn’t Ten.

Ten takes the most essential features from modern scripting languages, adds a few useful optimizations, and wraps it all up in a cool looking functional-procedural syntax; all in a few thousand lines of standards compliant C99 code.

Ten’s portability and small memory footprint make it an ideal option not only as an extension language for other applications; but as a scripting language for resource constrained devices, like those found in many IoT products or DIY projects.

The language’s minimal and consistent syntax also make it a decent option for new coders as the learning curve will be relatively shallow.

How small is Ten?

At the time of this writing the core Ten implementation compiles to the following sizes for the indicated platforms via GCC.

Platforms Size
amd64-linux 200Kb
arm-none 171Kb
wasm 27Kb

Note that these sizes can be reduced somewhat by setting the -Os optimization flag to optimize for size rather than performance. This reduces the amd64-linux build by about 30Kb.

How fast is Ten?

Though not particularly fast as far as scripting languages go, Ten’s virtual machine is implemented as a bytecode interpreter, which makes its performance comparable to Lua, Python, and other modern scripting languages. The limited benchmarking I’ve done shows Ten to be slightly slower than the reference Lua implementation, though it also uses significantly less memory than Lua.

I’m hoping that the performance gap between Ten and Lua will narrow as Ten has a chance to mature and more optimizations are added to the implementation.

How efficient is Ten?

I haven’t gotten around to doing any exact measurements regarding Ten’s memory use (separate from the memory used by its host process), but the limited benchmarks I’ve done show that Ten is generally pretty efficient with memory; most benchmarks show it to use significantly less memory than the reference Lua implementation, with a memory footprint up to 5x smaller than Lua’s in one of the more extreme cases.