Posted: Mar 16, 2012 2:55 am
by mizvekov
VazScep wrote:I have no idea. There are many reasons that I could see factoring into the rise and fall of programming languages, but it all looks like a chaotic system to me, a bit like trying to explain the rise and fall of viral videos. I've got a couple of anecdotes of my own though.

Well, I didn't mean for you to go that far and try to have a complete understanding of all that happened. I was simply asking for what kind of problems LISP had that you experienced to have a negative impact on adoption.

VazScep wrote:I was completely inspired by my university's brilliant presentation of the even more obscure language Smalltalk, which used the most impressive learning environment I've seen yet, called LearningWorks. Since I graduated, they ditched Smalltalk and migrated the course over to Java, thereby killing development of the LearningWorks environment. They cited industry pressure as the reason for the migration. Employers want Java developers. Students want to be employed. People want to learn the language everyone else is using. Popularity breeds popularity.

Yeah, that's the kind of answer I was looking for, but still, I don't think that's the complete picture. Smalltalk got the axe here probably also because your university was not using it academically, I mean beyond as a teaching tool to undergraduates. The guys doing their masters and phds were probably not finding it as interesting anymore.
Do you think that was also because of industry pressure?

VazScep wrote:My brother, as head of IT at his school, is in charge of preparing the A-level (for ages 16-18) in computer science. He's not a programmer, so he asked me which language he should learn and teach. I told him to use Python. Now I think that Python is a shit programming language, but I also know that Google are heavily invested in it, that universities are becoming more invested in it, and that there is a huge wealth of educational resources and libraries available for it. I'm making an active contribution to the popularity of a language that I myself despise.

True enough, also guilty of that charge with regards to php.

VazScep wrote:
But generally, I think I'd feel more confident explaining the subprime mortgage crisis than I would explaining the popularity or lack of popularity of a given programming language. All I will suggest is that if I did try to explain this stuff, I'd hardly ever talk about merit.

I am not such a pessimist here, I think academia has some influence on the future of programming languages, and It seems, at least to me, to be the case that LISP simply started losing appeal there.

VazScep wrote:3 wouldn't need to be standardised. It would just be about providing a reflection API. Ultimately, I'm just talking about having a lot more of this. I'd imagine having a library where all loaded modules come with metadata that I can query, so I can query what the module exports, what the types of its toplevel values are, which file it was compiled from, line numbers, and metadata about modules it references.

I thought you were talking about runtime introspection.

VazScep wrote:
I'm not sure how this plays with optimisation, but Java and the .NET languages have a lot of this stuff, as does Poly/ML. It might be that GHC is much more aggressive and there are subtle issues here, but I can't see them. The metadata should be separable from the data itself.

Well, if you just are interested in the metadata with regards to external interfaces, then I don't see any issues either.