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Re (tilly) 2: Choose the most powerful language

by tilly (Archbishop)
on May 02, 2001 at 00:56 UTC ( #77120=note: print w/ replies, xml ) Need Help??


in reply to Re: Choose the most powerful language
in thread Choose the most powerful language

I think there is a chicken and egg problem, but not where you believe it is.

If there are fewer Lisp hackers running around, they are generally more competent and there are fewer jobs chasing them. I don't think that a small company would have problems finding competent Lisp hackers if they wanted to do a project in Lisp.

However there is less done in Lisp, and the functional programming community has always suffered a lot from fragmentation. A reasonable caricature of the situation is that functional programming languages attract people who are looking for the best language. People who are so picky about their language tend to form strong opinions about what is good in a language, and do not in the end agree about what that best language is. So an already reasonably small group of people is then fragmented to the point where you have to expect to "roll your own" on virtually anything you do.

Sure, rolling your own is much easier with such a great language and such talented developers. But having to do it is a great cost!

I have some thoughts on when it is worthwhile to go out and roll your own, and when it is not. Some of those thoughts are likely to be rather controversial, but I will try to put them into a meditation in the next day or two. Suffice it to say that I believe that Paul Graham's choice was much better when he made it than it is now.

Incidentally for another look at why functional languages have not taken off like wildfire, take a look at the famous essay Worse is Better. Please don't take what is said there as gospel, but think about it. Even a decade later, the author doesn't know whether to believe his own argument.


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