Dylan at MacWorld 
Author Message
 Dylan at MacWorld

For those of you that expressed an interest in our recent announcement
regarding Jonathan Bachrach showing the first public domain Dylan compiler at
MacWorld, here is an abridged version of the conference report that will be
published in the September issue of FrameWorks. I have included the Smalltalk
writeup as well under the assumption that there might be some interest.

Steve Mann
MADA at MacWorld, by Russ Brenner, NEMADA Coordinator

The MADA meeting had a small turnout of around forty people in the CityView
Ballroom at Boston's World Trade Center (apparently we were competing with a
Newton developer meeting). Those present were treated to a display of useful
tools and frameworks. The meeting time was kept to a little over two and a half
hours in hopes that the audience could remain cognizant from begining to end.
QKS and Component Software also raffled off free copies of their products.

My first memories of Smalltalk are as a hot-air balloon on the cover of Byte
magazine, circa 1980. It seemed to lie dormant for awhile, but now, in the
nineties, Smalltalk is seeing a resurgence, and with good reason.

David Simmons, Quasar Knowledge Systems, Inc. (QKS), demonstrated
SmalltalkAgents, a recently shipped superset of the Smalltalk language. The
extensions are patterned after C and LISP, and include support for Mac toolbox
traps and callback routines. Dynamic linking, pre-emptive interrupt driven
threads and transparent memory management also come along with the package.

It seems that SmalltalkAgents is up-to-date with just about every System 7.1
feature that's available, and has prepared in advance for some features yet to
come. For instance, QKS uses a 24-bit international character set to support
Unicode (used currently on Newton) and WorldScript.

To demonstrate the power of this development environment, Simmons set up
duplicate background tasks, each in its own window, to compute the value of 500
factorial. After starting both tasks, he showed that he could still edit code
in another window without noticable delay. A short time later, one, and then
the other, of the background windows spat out the answer to their problem, down
to the last digit. No exponentials here, this was the real McCoy!

As noted by Steve Mann (FrameWorks, Jan/Feb 1993), the benefits of dynamic
language environments, such as SmalltalkAgents and Component Workshop, far
outweigh the disadvantages, and are in good position to become the development
tools of the future.

One of the events that caught everyone's attention was the presentation of the
first public domain version of Dylan. Dylan (short for "Dynamic Language") is a
new object-oriented language being developed at Apple's Cambridge R&D group
(ATG East as it's affectionately known).

Jonathan Bachrach, IRCAM/Harlequin, was given the task of designing a digital
production studio for musicians. Since expense was not a primary concern, the
IRCAM workstation was built around a high-end NeXT cube with a sticker price of
$55,000. With the hardware in line, the next step was to produce the software.
Since none of the existing programming languages seemed suited to his task,
Jonathan chose the next logical path: he wrote his own.

To be more precise, he looked at Dylan, saw that it was good, and decided that
since no one had written a compiler yet, he'd just have to do it himself.

Bachrach started the project less than one year ago when he moved to his new
job in France. After digesting the Dylan manual (available free of charge from

and changing his hair from neon green to neon red, he built the first
implementation as a set of macros for the python LISP compiler. In the
following months, the elements of his macro set were transformed from macros to
LISP, and later into Dylan itself.

This version of Dylan runs on Unix workstations, and Bachrach stated that,
rather than porting his work to the Macintosh, he wants to actually use his
compiler for its original purpose, musical production. This creates an
opportunity for any developer interested in creating a public domain version of
Dylan for the Mac. If the thought intrigues you, contact the MADA office for
further details (dying your hair is not required).

Sun, 28 Jan 1996 00:17:00 GMT  
 [ 1 post ] 

 Relevant Pages 

1. Dylan Reference Manual and MacWorld

2. QKS Seminar Suite at Macworld San Francisco

3. LOGO-L> MacWorld report

4. MACWORLD Expo and Ada Technology

5. archives of info-dylan/comp.lang.dylan available

6. Dylan vs DyLan

7. (fwd) harlequin's dylan-corba mailing list switching to MIT's info-dylan

8. lazy.dylan 0.1 -- add ML/Scheme-style lazy evaluation to Dylan

9. Dylan and Java [was: Harlequin Dylan - Update]

10. Dylan Programming Book and Apple Dylan

11. Dylan, guys, Dylan.

12. Dylan is the Name was(Re: Dylan (Bob) eats rotten Apple (Computer))


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