Modula-3 Introduction and Resources

Modula-3 is a programming language designed to be a successor to Modula-2. It was developed in the late 1980s, and took inspiration from (and tried to correct perceived problems with) Pascal and Algol.

The design of Modula-3 sought to include modern "high-level" language features such as multi-threading, exception handling, and automated garbage collection, while retaining enough power and safety to be useful as a systems programming language.

Modula-3 was widely influential among computer science academics, but never achieved widespread practical use. The most important contribution that Modula-3 made to the field of computer programming is the influence it had on the development of other languages: the designers of Java and Python both explicitly borrowed Modula-3.

Modula-3 Resources Online

There are plenty of old languages that still get a relatively large amount of use. Modula-3 is not one of them. Interest in Modula-3 seems to have peaked around the turn of the 21st century, and most of the online resources for the language have disappeared. We've found the best of the ones that are still online.

Modula-3 Tutorials

If you need to learn the language, these tutorials are the best place to start. Most of them were originally written during Modula-3's heyday in the 1990s.

Additional Learning Materials

Modula-3 Reference Materials

  • The Modula-3 Home Page is the official source for all things Modula-3 related, and includes links to a number of useful Modula-3 resources.
  • Introducing Modula-3 is a classic article on the language from the December 1994 edition of Linux Journal. The article does a great job explaining how and when Modula-3 can be a better tool than C or C++ for certain types of development projects.
  • Modula-3 report is the original definition document on the language.
  • The c2 wiki article on Modula-3 is an interesting, if chaotic, look at a wide array of opinions and observations on the language.
  • From ML to C via Modula-3 is an interesting 1994 paper on the place of Modula-3 in the Computer Science curriculum at the University of Cambridge.
  • Modula-3 Frequently Asked Questions and Answers is a place to find answers to all the Modula-3 questions you might frequently be asking.
  • Threads: A Modula-3 Newsletter was a journal on Modula-3 published in the late 1990s. Copies of original issues are available online.

Digging further…

If you are doing academic research on Modula-3, you should check out the Modula-3: Annotated Bibliography. This page provides references to books, papers, and articles related to Modula-3, many of which are academic or highly technical. Unfortunately, most of the links are now inaccessible, but this will give you a place to start when searching at your university library.

Modula-3 Tools

Books on Modula-3

Should I learn Modula-3?

For most people, the answer is no.

If you find yourself needing to debug or maintain legacy Modula-3 code, then obviously you need to learn the language. Those particularly interested in the history of computer programming should be familiar with Modula-3, as it played an important an important part in the development of language theory, and led to the creation of Java and other similar languages.

For the average working developer, however, it is hard to see how learning Modula-3 will provide a practical benefit.


Further Reading and Resources

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