Get coding with Pony

Run, Pony, run! A programming language that gets stuff done

Sarah Schlothauer
© Shutterstock / Grigorita Ko

Pony is a relatively new programming language focused on getting stuff done and keeping a simple syntax. Should you give this language a try?

There are no shortages of programming languages, and if you’re looking to be multilingual, it can be a daunting task to pick a new language from the vast cornucopia. Sometimes it is worth to dive deep and see what lesser discussed languages are out there to try. How about taking Pony for a ride?

Pony is an open-source, object-oriented, actor-model, capabilities-secure, high-performance programming language created by Sylvan Clebsch.

Here at JAXenter, we love all things open source, so we took at look at what Pony has to offer and decided that this is one horse worth betting on in the racetrack.

A thoroughbred language

Let’s take a look at some of its features. Pony is:

  • Type safe
  • Memory safe
  • Exception-safe
  • Data-race free
  • Deadlock free
  • Native code
  • C compatible

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From the Pony site:

“There’s plenty to love about Pony, but more than anything else, what we love most is that Pony makes it easy to write fast, safe, efficient, highly concurrent programs. How? The Pony type system introduces a novel concept: “reference capabilities”. Reference capabilities allow you to label different bits of data based on how that data can be shared. The Pony compiler will then verify that you are in fact correctly using the data based on the labels you provide. Reference capabilities combined with Pony’s actor model of concurrency makes for a powerful pairing.”

Focusing on simple grammar and a reliable, crash-free experience, Pony adheres to the philosophy of “getting stuff done”. Third party libraries are easy to use and Pony aims to reduce bugs through its simple, limited syntax.

Pony isn’t without its downsides though. Since the library of open source code for it is still fairly small, it may not be the best language for something large scale. However, if you find yourself loving Pony, why not strengthen its position and add to the community? Open source tech can only stay as strong as its user base!

A helpful herd

When you write with Pony, you won’t be in the stables alone. There is a #ponylanguage IRC available on freenode for real time help and a user mailing list to keep up with what’s new. With time, this relatively new language is sure to grow a larger user base with more responses for anyone who has a question.

SEE ALSO: Technology trends 2018: Here are the top programming languages

Impatient and want to take a look right now? Enter the Pony Playground and see what this language can do by testing it out in your browser. Get started coding right away with the tutorial and check out the GitHub repos.

To answer the burning question of “Why is it called Pony though?”, creator Sylvan Clebsch says on his account of how the programming language came to be, “Back in the flight sim days, when I would make my friends groan by telling them yet again about all the things I was going to do when I wrote a programming language, one of the people I would tell was Nathan Mehl. And one time, when I gave him yet another laundry list, he said: “yeah, and I want a pony”.

We look forward to seeing if Pony gains popularity and what projects developers create with the language. Stay golden, Pony.

Sarah Schlothauer

Sarah Schlothauer

All Posts by Sarah Schlothauer

Sarah Schlothauer is the editor for She received her Bachelor's degree from Monmouth University, West Long Branch, New Jersey. She currently lives in Frankfurt, Germany with her husband and cat where she enjoys reading, writing, and medieval reenactment. She is also the editor for Conditio Humana, an online magazine about ethics, AI, and technology.

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