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[REBOL] Re: Dialects (any plan is better than no plan) - Bane or Blessing?

From: greggirwin:mindspring at: 27-Sep-2002 15:41

Hi Tim, et al << Many other programmers have told me that rebol looks very promising, but shy away because of the lack of a standard library or API. And frankly I think rebol is "old enough" to have that now.
I was thinking about this because some time ago I put out a feeler message to see if people were interested in organizing a set of function libraries. Not much interest. I have my own, and I know some others do as well, but there is no standard architecture for them which I think is important. I started mine when I was very new to REBOL, so I have little faith that my approach is a very good one, hence I haven't put it out there. In any case, I hope that when Carl makes an announcment about the new libmaster that we'll be able to get something going in this area. As far as the lack of a standard library in REBOL, I have an opinion about this as well (I'm just full of opinions lately :). If you compare REBOL to some other languages, there is a lot of comparable functionality. The difference is that in REBOL they aren't considered libraries. The various net protocols are a good example. Some languages even list things as library components that we would think of as integral parts of the language. If we were to draw a line between native functions versus schemes, mezzanines, and other pieces written in REBOL, it would probably look like REBOL had a comparable set of standard libraries. It's just that we don't see them that way. :) Maybe what we really need is a document that discusses this issue and outlines some of the built-in pieces that eliminate the need for many standard libraries . Or maybe a link on to a page for the "REBOL Standard Libraries" and a bullet list on that page: POP3 built-in HTTP built-in TCP/Sockets built-in ... Parsing built-in Currency built-in Dates built-in Serialization built-in Base64 built-in Compression built-in Encryption built-in GUI built-in (View only, no TK required) ... << It's too bad that RT (IMHO) hasn't taken (or delegated) the lead in that. Lacking that, a series of well-documented dialects might help to fill that gap.
I think a set of function libraries is still important, for the same reason that lots of REBOL's features are: people expect them. It gives them a comfortable place to start, where they can look at things in a familiar context. Dialects are where it's at, but people looking at REBOL for the first time aren't going to see that. They need to be able to ease in slowly in most cases. There are also some basic pieces still missing (rounding numbers, justifying strings, etc.) that could stand to have a good reference version in a visible place. Other libraries would be higher level, more specialized (like Ladislav's %high-fun.r), or OS specific. Dialects should probably have their own area. I think the current library suffers from lack of visibility and a bit of stagnation, but it's still very valuable! For people just checking things out on the web, they can't see how cool it is from the View Desktop, which is a shame. One of the greatest things is how "alive" things can be. I.e. you can click on a script and see it run. I think an EasyVID style front end on a library could be *very* cool. Just click samples to run them, maybe have a place to enter test code and data, all the docs are there as well. Now where is all that extra time I thought I had... :) --Gregg