Are you familiar with the word “footgun”? Most of us have heard the expression “shoot oneself in the foot”, used as a metaphor for making a mistake by your own hand and then paying the prize. A footgun, on the other hand, is a term used to describe a tool that’s built in such a way that it’s extremely likely to cause you to make a mistake.

Erik Corry, who has worked on several well-known language runtimes, such as V8 (the JavaScript engine behind Google Chrome and node.js) and Dart (Google's front-end language for mobile and web platforms), hates footguns. Although, as he’ll tell you in this presentation, he’s also responsible for creating a few himself over the years.

There shouldn’t be as many footguns. And you should not really listen to the language runtime developers when they say that it’s not possible, that it would cost far too much. Because if you force them to give you a feature, their ego will force them to make it go fast and be efficient afterwards.

In the work he’s doing now with Toit, a virtual machine optimized for small embedded devices, Erik and the team are determined to use their accumulated experience to write something with as few footguns and as many helpful things as possible.

Basically, people like me, especially me from 10 years ago, should respect their users more, and the users should probably respect themselves more and demand more from their tools.

Watch the full presentation to hear all of Erik’s anecdotes and find the courage to start demanding virtual machines that don’t hate you.

Virtual machines that don’t hate you – Erik Corry at myConf 2023

Virtual machines that don’t hate you – Erik Corry at myConf 2023

Read more about the talk at Speaker announcement: Erik Corry.