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[REBOL] Re: World Wide Rabbit - and what can be done to fix it?

From: greggirwin:mindspring at: 20-Oct-2002 12:47

Ed, Jason et al I have a different view of REBOL, and what it means for REBOL to "succeed". I don't expect REBOL to displace C++, Java, or the WWW anytime soon, but that doesn't matter to me. What matters to me is that RT can stay alive, no matter how small they are, and continue provide the tools and toys we've come to know and love. If they can make a good living, and I can use my tool of choice to help people solve their problems, I'm happy. Jason, you said that you got a new DL of Java from Sun because yours got mangled (which apparently happens a lot). How often has your REBOL installation become unstable? Don't forget the size difference either. To me REBOL's design is based on general principles applied in many ways, which tends to mean that any particular feature, no matter how well it's implemented, will not be optimized for every possible use. Another thing that is often, if not always, in my mind is that a lot of the features and examples in REBOL are just "road signs" for us to follow, so we have some familiar language "landmarks" as we come to REBOL from other langugages. When we see language, GUI, or runtime features in other languages, we tend (myself included) to think "Hey! They could add that to REBOL and it would be even better!", but this is not always true. Maybe it never is. :) REBOL is different, and it allows us to solve problems in different ways. <<WHAT'S WRONG WITH View/DESKTOP [Top 5]? 1. DISPLAY MODES No scrollable list 'mode' to display sites as alternative of big icons >> OK, this is a good example I think. I agree that a list mode might be a nice feature, but how much does it buy you? I.e. how many items can you navigate easily in icon mode, versus list mode? 100 vs. 500 maybe? Not a bad gain, to be sure, but is it enough? How many sites are going to be out there? 10,000? 100,000? Are mini-icons really that helpful? Unless they're a well designed, scaled down version of a larger icon, can they really provide a lot of meaning? Searching and sorting, as you said, are very important. How easy will it be to search Java WAR (web archive) files versus REBOL data? << - take a look at Limewire for example of a pretty neat interface: >> I didn't download it (I'm on slow dial-up) but it does look pretty neat all right. Now, consider that the LimeWire team is developing an application that runs on three platforms and their development team is probably as large as RTs (if not larger) while RT is developing a sub-platform that runs on *lots* of platforms. What would it take to do something like LimeWire in REBOL? Is that something that we should do, or RT should do? RT isn't really in the "applications" business at this point. << 5. BOOKMARKING No fast and friendly way to bookmark sites our group theme in convenient sets of 'favorites'. >> What about bookmarks.r? OK, there's no menu option that says "Add Bookmark", but you can tweak the desktop quite readily, though I certainly haven't excercised this to its full potential myself (e.g. adding new services). Since the Desktop is part of View, everything that is added to it adds to the basic View package. Maybe someone who knows will jump in and tell us how we can call code snippets from custom Service or Bookmark entries and we can configure the Desktop ourselves. That doesn't solve all our problems, but it would be pretty handy. Some of the features you mentioned (highlighting visited links) might not be hard to do, especially considering that each face can have its own effect, or have its icon composited with another image. Maybe they could just give us a hook. Send it to feedback and see what they say. In looking, briefly, at the Java Web Start stuff, something else struck me. The JNLP (Java Network Loading Protocol) has to be set up for each app you want to load, and you have to configure the web server for a new MIME type, correct? Contrast that with setting up a reb site. On to some thoughts on languages and such... << Another case in point, I've watched a number of languages come and go over the years, we've had Fortran, COBOL, BASIC, COMAL, Forth, and many more come and go. Some of which attempted to make programming easier for all to understand (COBOL, BASIC), but what languages have actually reigned supreme? C, C++ and Java. All languages that are admittedly powerful, but are just as equally incomprehensible to J. Q. Public. >> I'll differ with Ed's view a bit here. COBOL and BASIC are far from gone, and Forth was never really a big time language, but it's not gone either (you can program Lego Mindstorms with pbForth :). I have to admit that I've never heard of COMAL (oCAML yes, COMAL no). Now, I don't know of anybody who learns COBOL today because it's hip or cool, and VB has grown ever further from its BASIC language roots, but they're still out there serving a need. Whether a language is powerful, to me, is determined by how well it lets you express yourself and solve problems efficiently. This means different things in different contexts. Assembly is powerful in an entirely different way than SQL, but both are powerful and each limits your thinking in certain ways. You can't solve a problem that you can't express. << long as they prefer to be geniuses, and limited in there thinking, Carl, and all others who would try and make the computer world and easier place, have a tough battle ahead of them. >> Until the time is right which, unfortunately, sometimes doesn't happen in time. :) VB overcame its "BASIC" stigma because it provided something that people needed. Now lots of tools and languages have emulated it in many ways. I think the same may happen with REBOL. The "smart people" will see that it provides something we need (something we're not really exploiting very well yet: messaging) and, at the same time, is accessible. Lisp and Scheme, along with many other languages, are very powerful, but they are not accessible (IMHO). If you've seen "Field of Dreams", think of those great lines James Earl Jones has when he's saying "people will come...they won't know why...", etc. Maybe they won't come to REBOL, but REBOL represents something they want. --Gregg