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“Stringly typed” is a slang IT term related to coding strategies that describes the process where a developer uses string values excessively for variables. Stringly typed code is code in which variables are often typed as strings, and handled as strings, when there are better alternatives available to programmers. It is also a word play off of “strongly typed” code, which describes code where types are used rigidly to enforce results. Stringly typed code may be strongly typed, in that it reinforces the use of strings, but it is generally not “strongly written,” as it typically does not make use of the most efficient solutions.
In stringly typed code, even different types of data variables like real numbers may be typed as strings and handled as strings within functions or procedures. Many of these functions and procedures return a string instead of an integer, floating point value or other numerical value. One of the best examples of stringly typed code is illustrated in a lolcatz meme accompanied by the text: “I can has string to store date valyooz?” Here, the meme’s creator is referencing the idea that date values are much more efficiently handled as numbers, but a programmer might type them as strings instead.
The idea of stringly typed code really goes to the heart of some of the big differences between how humans and computers write and interpret code. Some of these differences are covered in the semantic Web movement, which aims to label technologies in more human-friendly and semantic ways. By the same token, one of the biggest reasons programmers might choose to write stringly typed code is that it is more comfortable for them, if they inherently like words more than numbers. Stringly typed code is “word-friendly” code – when variables are typed as strings, they function as a string of text characters. In a sense, programmers might create stringly typed code because they are simply afraid of math. In many different cases, stringly typed code favors a human-centered approach, the creation of text strings for variables, rather than a computer-centered approach of using the numerical values that are more easily converted to machine language and binary code.