Minority Language Report

OK, a couple of posts rattled my cage today:

  • Finding Lisp:
    He sums up with a nice indictment of Common Lisp's freeze-dried-since-1994 state:

    Fun Fact about Common Lisp: standard Common Lisp has no networking libraries at all, but it does have a built in function to print integers as Roman numerals , using either the new style (14=XIV) or the old-style (14=XIIII) Roman numerals. Huh.

  • The Geek Guy Rants
    : In the pros department: itÂ's a great programming language. Ruby, python, perl, java can'?t really compete as languages. HTML and symbolic expressions are almost a one-to-one mapping, so generating HTML is a breeze. It'?s great fun to work in, and I'?ve certainly learned a good deal about programming in general just for using it.

    Having a Lisp process I can manipulate on a live server has been very handy for updating small changes and debugging as well.

    The drawbacks all basically stem from the same problem. Since very few people actually use Lisp, we can'?t take advantage of the tremendous community support the other languages have. There are few libraries, few implementations, and little real-world examples of building large-scale websites in Lisp. The language itself (ANSI Common Lisp) hasn?t changed much since it was standardized, which was about 20 years ago.

They are right - and I have seen this before: Eiffel and Smalltalk. In both these cases there seems to be a few small vendors and a small but very passionate groups of developers, but too much diversity of effort.

In the Eiffel case, the heavyweight vendor (relative to the minnows) decided to make friends with Microsoft and go it pretty much alone on another round of standardisation. In the Smalltalk arena, some are celebrating the exit of IBM from that segment; again the are several vendors. Squeak is interesting as a nice environment,open source - this could be the future there - or not - who knows.

For both languages, grouping together in the face of competition from other languages would be sensible ; how about a common Open Source base platform with charging for specific add ons, or services (I believe Dolphin Smalltalk pursues its on environment and does services) ?

And what about Lisp? Even more fragmented - why do so many rebuild basic Lisp compilers/interpreters? Are Franz and LispWorks going to thrive by doing it all? Hell, is Lips going to thrive? What would it take to get a 2nd round odf standardisation going, so that Lisp has the range of standard libraries that Java and C# have? Then others could focus on better environments and pushing ahead in more new areas.

Come on guys, don't let the bad guys win!

Phew this ranting is tiring - I'm off for a lie down

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