You may have had a miserable experience with Lisp, but I
think that you are writing it off far too easily. First
of all a 500,000 line Java program is likely to be about
a 50,000 line Lisp program. The factor of 10 difference
in code size for the same task will pay for itself in
maintainability. OK, since the lines will do more they
will be harder to follow. Say a factor of 3. But that
makes the overall code base about a factor of 3 easier to
Of course just glancing at the code base
what you first notice is that you have to think. As
petral pointed out to me once, this is analagous to the
division between readable and legible fonts. Legible
fonts are ones which can be seen easily from a distance
and under poor viewing conditions. A readable font is
one which you can easily read large quantities of. They
are not the same. Lisp is very definitely not
legible. But it lends itself to readable code.
And it gets better. Your reduced code size makes it
possible to work with a smaller team. Since intrateam
communication has been known for decades to be the biggest
bottleneck on large projects, that is an even bigger win.
Therefore you have less code, your code base is easier to
understand, and you have a smaller team that can work
faster. Who would you bet on?
This isn't just theory. Read Paul Graham's article
Beating The Averages
about the history of ViaWeb. One of the many points that
he made is that they found that any competitor who was
advertising for Java programmers could just be written
off. They simply weren't going to be serious competition...
(Many of the same points apply to Perl of course...)
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