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[REBOL] Re: What language am I looking for?

From: joel:neely:fedex at: 15-May-2001 23:37

Hi, again, Ken... Many interesting points. Only time to respond to a couple right now. Ken Anthony wrote:
> Dulcinea shall not escape me! Although pictures of my fiancee > standing next to me don't seem to be enough for the INS, but > that's another matter... >
My younger son played Don Quixote in "Man of La Mancha" this past fall, so the Cervantes allusions strike a fond chord (no pun intended -- yeah, right! ;-)
> >The last two major efforts (of which I'm aware) > > aimed at building one-size-fits all languages produced PL/1 and > > ADA, and I don't know of very many people that even *use* either > > of those, much less regard them as "final solutions". > > Which only proves that I am not alone in my quest (see, you can't > discourage a true knight errant ;-) >
And many useful spinoffs have come from intense AI research, so I'm all for windmill tilting, just for the side effects! However, we still can't program computers by just talking to them in plain English (whatever that is). It's just that if I believe that "the journey is the reward" I'd better not pin my hopes on arriving at Utopia.
> > My experience is that it depends VERY much on what the "that" is. > > I gave up trying to use REBOL for 2- and 3-dimensional array > > computation. The notation was too awkward and the performance > > just wasn't there. > > Forgive me Joel, but that's the easy argument... >
Perhaps its so easy precisely because it's true! Remember, you asked how close REBOL was to being The One True Language, so I was just giving an example of something I do that REBOL doesn't handle very well. (And, of course, I'll be the first to cheer if REBOL 3.0 turns out to be wonderful for array-based numerical computation. However, it will take changes BOTH in performance AND notation before that happy state arrives.)
> ...when legacy code is an issue, but I'm willing to sacrifice > this even though I don't see any reason why I should have to... > Mainly the new language would meet my needs for new projects. > Legacy code eventually goes away... We might have to kick it > a few times. ;-) >
Well, in my day-job-alter-ego, my super-powers don't extend to being able to persuade management that we should rewrite all of the existing business logic in a new language just because I believe it to be nicer than the old one(s). Many of my projects involve the construction of new code that *must* interoperate with existing systems, componenents, and libraries.
> >REBOL can create functions, objects, etc. on-the-fly > ...can't imagine any language being much good if you couldn't... >
Gigabit routers aren't written in dynamic, interactive, interpreted languages. They have a fixed function, with severe performance demands. I'm glad there are such languages, although I much prefer not to have to spend too much time in them.
> > > What other things do I need that are not included? How do I > > > create a new widget that isn't already provided for me? > > "Use the source, Luke!" Look at how VID implements the basic > > set of widgets it offers, then look at the WinSkin demo, then > > try your hand at creating another widget. > > This was a rhetorical Joel! But I do appreciate the thought. >
I didn't mean it as sheer rhetoric. Someone recently posted a bug fix that he figured out by reading the VID source. Other folks have already figured out how to extend VID by doing the same. I was seriously trying to say that it could be done.
> My intuition tell me that computer programming is a finite area > of mathmatics. >
Perhaps finite, but arbitrarily large nonetheless...
> Is it such a stretch to imagine a language that is so powerful, > simple and generally useful that a very large percentage of a > professional programmers tasks can be handled by it [?] >
It is for me. Computing Science is an open-ended quest, as is Mathematics. As long as we are discovering new things to think and program about, we'll need a steady flow of new and more expressive notations with which to communicate those thoughts.
> I'm not arguing perfection. I suggesting... that the quest > is worthy. >
And, as I said much earlier, on that we agree. But my view is that the quest is worthy because of what we'll learn along the way, not because there's an end to the quest at which we'll eventually arrive and from which we'll nevermore depart.
> > flexibility/extensibility has a cost in notation and/or raw > > performance. > > I keep hearing you say it's a zero sum game (back to that sig > again ;-) >
Heisenburg thought so...
> > the relevant concepts get distilled into a more tightly- > > focused language with less (conceptual and implementational) > > overhead. > > Then again, maybe not... >
Forgive my quoting someone else (oh, that was you ;-), but maybe not is an easy argument. And not very compelling if all the actual evidence at hand points the other way.
> So your saying there may still be room for > improvement (bashed that windmill a good one that time!) >
Yes, but when one arm of the windmill goes up, another one goes down! There's always room for improvement in one specific area if you're willing to pay for it in another. Thanks again for your challenging insights, and stay on the horse. One of those windmills might actually roll over and play dead! -jn- -- ------------------------------------------------------------ Programming languages: compact, powerful, simple ... Pick any two! joel'dot'neely'at'fedex'dot'com