Airplane Test of Programming Languages

The airplane test measures the (often binary) ability to write code in a specified programming language while secluded on an airplane with no internet access. It shows the programming language’s capability to unblock the programmer and is an indicator of a productivity.

Typed languages (such as rustlang) fair better because it’s easier to reason about code and jump to a definition when you need to understand what’s going on. However, other contributing factors include legibility of error messages and stack traces, quality of documentation, quirks in the language, tooling, and whether the it is ‘batteries included’. In this way, typed languages can also fail the test (e.g. TypeScript’s quirks with interoperating with JS libraries and Webpack generally requires access to StackOverflow).