[FoRK] Programming languages, operating systems, despair and anger

Damien Morton dmorton at bitfurnace.com
Thu Nov 12 12:31:24 PST 2009

On Fri, Nov 13, 2009 at 7:05 AM, Jeff Bone <jbone at place.org> wrote:
> Damien writes:
>> What you describe is a massive undertaking - and one rife with problems
>> that when resolved result is a mess of not quite right solutions.
> And one that has mostly been done, pretty well -- cf. the aforementioned
> Rebol.  While almost everything else out there is a "language for the 80s
> conceived in the 90s" Rebol is a language for the teens conceived in the
> 90s.

If those Rebol one-liners are anything to go by, I'd say it wasnt done
right. Its way out there on the APL branch somewhere, from what I can

> Other promising contenders, hobbled for other reasons:  PowerShell (.Net is
> ghastly, and it shows through) and arc (still too religiously-lispy to get
> behind the kind of strict literalism Rebol initiates and I am endorsing.)
>  Erlang is good for what it is (a language for the 90s designed in the 80s
> and 90s, finding use in the late-Oughts) but it's just a DSL for join
> calculus and large-scale systems-building.  Syntactically a mess, but at
> least it has symbols --- but bad for much of the kind of stuff many of us do
> in terms of data-wrangling.  Other almost-contenders litter the roadside of
> development:  FiSH (both of them), various Logos, Shoes (DAMN WTLS!), Pluvo,
> etc. all promising, never to realize their potential.  Various analytical
> DSLs --- R comes to mine --- absolutely *shine* but fail to generalize
> enough beyond their niche.  Etc...

Powershell.. maybe. Arc is barely a sparrow fart - you cant seriously
be suggesting it is a contended for Java/Python/etc replacement?.
Erlang is suffers from bit-rot, its libraries written by people from
completely different mindsets and now locked into a morass of
inconsistencies. The others I dont know so well.

> Don't BS me about what a "massive" undertaking this is.  It's obviously
> do-able, there are 80% existence proofs.  It's just that none of them cover
> enough of the set of disjoint use cases to get enough traction --- *or* they
> fail the adoption test for non-technical reasons.

It is a massive undertaking, and unfortunately one that has only been
done by staged evolution. Java, .NET, and Python are the
cross-platform fully-fledged dev systems I am most familiar with (and
ones that approach the completeness you propose), and they have all
evolved over time and carry different strata of thinking within them.

To take one example, .NET - 1.0 was just java, 2.0 added generics (a
huge step), 3.0 added Linq (a limited metaprogramming) and type
inference, and 4.0 adds dynamic language features and duck typing. You
could make a case that all of these things should have been in 1.0,
and you can certainly make a case that their not being there has
resulted in a massively confusing library system. Then again, the
project would have been canned if they hadnt shoved 1.0 out there when
they had. Worse is better, blah blah blah.

>> Your platonic ideals will not help you here.
> Let's not be rude.  As previously discussed, I sit far closer to the
> Epicurean end of that false one-dimensional landscape than the Platonic.
>  But not even that anymore, so much, really.

Not being rude - trying to make an allusion to a scene in a movie
"your god will not help you here".

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