Is the Lisp Language Stagnant? 
Author Message
 Is the Lisp Language Stagnant?

I sometimes think we should change the charter of Comp.lang.lisp
to say the purpose of the newsgroup is to discuss why Lisp sucks.
That's what we seem to spend most of out time doing.

The present approach is to suggest that Lisp may have been ok
once, but not any more: because it's stagnant.  As evidence of
this, we're told that Lisp has not advanced on several fronts:
the interface to other languages, modules and programming in
the large, static typing, etc.  But even if true this would not
show Lisp was stagnant, only that it hasn't developed in
certain ways.

The truth is that Lisp has developed but Lisp's critics
and Lisp's developers often have different interests.  For
instance, there's been a lot of work on object-oriented
programming and metaobject protocols.

Yet again and again criticism is phrased as if the developers
had the _wrong_ interests rather than different ones.  Moreover
when progress is made on the fronts the critics favor (eg,
modules in EuLisp and Le_Lisp, foreign function interfaces
in particular Common Lisp implementations), it doesn't count
because it's not standard.

Notice that the title isn't "Is Common Lisp stagnant?" but
"Is the Lisp language stagnant?"  Common Lisp is at least
moving slowly, because it's been necessary to stop making
changes in order to produce a standard; but Lisp has been
moding along just fine, given that it's going to stay Lisp
and not turn into ML.

-- jd



Mon, 01 Jan 1996 23:34:44 GMT  
 Is the Lisp Language Stagnant?

|I sometimes think we should change the charter of Comp.lang.lisp
|to say the purpose of the newsgroup is to discuss why Lisp sucks.
|That's what we seem to spend most of out time doing.

I must have missed those postings that said that "Lisp sucks".

Despite its title, this thread has mostly been about issues such as
coming up with a FFI standard for CommonLisp, something that seems
both useful and important, at least to some people who are trying to
use CommonLisp in environments where there are lots of C and fortran
libraries.  That seems positive, forward looking, and perfectly
appropriate to comp.lang.lisp.

                                        Thomas.



Tue, 02 Jan 1996 02:57:32 GMT  
 Is the Lisp Language Stagnant?

Quote:

>I sometimes think we should change the charter of Comp.lang.lisp
>to say the purpose of the newsgroup is to discuss why Lisp sucks.
>That's what we seem to spend most of out time doing.

The lament seems to be more along the lines of "Why isn't Lisp more like C?"

--
Kaveh Kardan



Tue, 02 Jan 1996 09:35:55 GMT  
 Is the Lisp Language Stagnant?

Quote:


>|I sometimes think we should change the charter of Comp.lang.lisp
>|to say the purpose of the newsgroup is to discuss why Lisp sucks.
>|That's what we seem to spend most of out time doing.

>I must have missed those postings that said that "Lisp sucks".

Is this a quibble, that no one said those two words?

Just a short while ago, there was an attack on dynamic typing
in a couple of newsgroups.  Did it miss this one?  More recently
we've had:

   And I'm NOT pro-CL; I dislike it intensely.  To recap (slightly
   exaggerated): LISP is irredeemably ghastly :);

   Decent "functional" languages are ergonomically much nicer than
   any LISP will ever be

   With Lisp, I get the impression that it is somewhat stagnant these
   days.

   In my opinion, Lisp suffer from a "closed world assumption" which is
   mirrored within the community itself.

   I think the real reason Lisp isn't widely used is because Lisp
   developers insist on providing incredibly fancy, interactive "Lisp
   worlds" which are nearly an operating system unto themselves.

   Copyright garbage, prompts, random garbage collector
   messages, and chatty de{*filter*}s that pop up questions instead of dying
   cleanly are all nails in the system programming coffin.

-- jd



Tue, 02 Jan 1996 21:38:21 GMT  
 Is the Lisp Language Stagnant?


|> >
|> >|I sometimes think we should change the charter of Comp.lang.lisp
|> >|to say the purpose of the newsgroup is to discuss why Lisp sucks.
|> >|That's what we seem to spend most of out time doing.
|> >
|> >I must have missed those postings that said that "Lisp sucks".
|>
|> Is this a quibble, that no one said those two words?
|>
|> Just a short while ago, there was an attack on dynamic typing
|> in a couple of newsgroups.  Did it miss this one?  More recently
|> we've had:
|>
|>    And I'm NOT pro-CL; I dislike it intensely.  To recap (slightly
|>    exaggerated): LISP is irredeemably ghastly :);
|>
|>    Decent "functional" languages are ergonomically much nicer than
|>    any LISP will ever be
|>
|>    With Lisp, I get the impression that it is somewhat stagnant these
|>    days.
|>
|>    In my opinion, Lisp suffer from a "closed world assumption" which is
|>    mirrored within the community itself.
|>
|>    I think the real reason Lisp isn't widely used is because Lisp
|>    developers insist on providing incredibly fancy, interactive "Lisp
|>    worlds" which are nearly an operating system unto themselves.
|>
|>    Copyright garbage, prompts, random garbage collector
|>    messages, and chatty de{*filter*}s that pop up questions instead of dying
|>    cleanly are all nails in the system programming coffin.

Those don't sound like statements to the effect of "Lisp sucks" to me.
Instead, I find they sound more like concerns about the future
development of Lisp and similar languages (permit to to place "SML" in
the category of "similar languages").

I'd like to see Lisp and similar languages catch on more in the market
place, and I'd like them to become (even more) more useful for my work.
Discussions about whether and to what degree static type systems are
useful (in addition to dynamic typing), whether the various Lisp
standards committees have their collective head stuck in the sand
or not, and how Lisp-like languaes can interoperate in a world that
is dominated by C, C++, and FORTRAN, seem like they might provide
useful feedback to people involved in the evolution and standardization
of Lisp, and they can help current users assess where Lisp
(and other, similar languages) are going.

But when people suggest thinking about how static type checkers, FFI's,
functional programming (in the sense of non-imperative data structures)
could be integrated with those other areas at which Lisp is already
good, there are frequently responses like: "you are trying to turn Lisp
into C", "well, maybe 'we' could add it, but it is clearly a useless
feature, so why would anybody bother", etc.  

Fortunately, there is often also some useful discussion by people who
aren't religious in such matters, and there are often useful pointers
to literature, work, or source code that already exists.  So, I hope
discussions like the ones you referred to above will continue.  If
you think all they are about is that "Lisp sucks", that's too bad for
you--I can imagine you won't find them very interesting, then.

                                        Thomas.



Tue, 02 Jan 1996 23:52:44 GMT  
 
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