In recent years there has been increased interest in scripting languages, the migration from scripts to large programs, and the interplay between typed and untyped code. New languages such as TypeScript, Hack, Dart, Typed Racket, and GradualTalk, to name a few, have begun to explore the integration of dynamic and static typing within the same language.
However, once the understanding of the system has reached a critical point and requirements have stabilized, scripting languages become less appealing. The compromises made to optimize development time make it harder to reason about program correctness, harder to do semantic-preserving refactorings, and harder to optimize execution speed. The lack of type information makes the code harder to navigate.
This situation often leads to a rewrite of a program in a less dynamic language, which may be costly and may introduce many bugs due to human error or semantic differences between the scripting language and the new target language (e.g., lack of garbage collection in C++, stricter type rules in Java, differences in available libraries, etc.). Sometimes only parts of the program are reimplemented, e.g., in C or assembler, as an optimization technique for a particularly computation-intensive method. Bridging a high-level scripting language to lower-level C introduces new opportunities for errors, possibly introduces platform-specific ties, and increases the number of languages a programmer must know to maintain the system. Both these approaches, especially the first one, have the downside of slowing down future development as they effectively preclude further use of the scripting language for prototyping new features.
The concept of gradual typing has been proposed, in which the programmer controls which portions of the program are dynamically typed and which portions are statically typed. Over the last decade there has been significant progress on the theory and practice of gradual typing, but there are still many open questions and unexplored points in the design space.
The STOP workshop is interested in evolution of scripts in the sense of largely untyped pieces of code into safer programs, with more rigid structure and constrained behaviour through the use of gradual typing, contract checking, extensible languages, refactoring tools, and the like. The goal is to further the understanding of such systems in practice, and connect practice and theory. This workshop aims to bring researchers together from academia and industry for passionate discussion about these topics, and to promote not only the theory, but practical evalution of these ideas, and experience reports.