The Caml Consortium
The role of the Caml Consortium is to federate the design and
development efforts around the Caml programming language.
This language and its best-known implementation, the Objective Caml
system whose qualities are widely acknowledged, enable substantial
gains in productivity to be obtained thanks to its great
expressiveness and the static verifications carried out by the
compiler which detect the majority of programming errors even before
the program is run.
Nevertheless, as for any other research product, the question is
naturally asked on the continuity of the language and the existence of
companies which can provide development and/or maintenance of
applications programmed in Caml. A consortium grouping together the
major users of the language is probably the best response that can be
made to these questions.
The Consortium's roles
The Caml Consortium will therefore try to bring together, around the
language development team, industries, research centres and
educational establishments interested in contributing their support to
the design and development of the language and related tools.
Comprising a group of highly-motivated users, the Consortium will be
the place where the members can identify their common requirements,
exchange their experiences and solutions, and co-operate to propose a
particular development of general interest. One of the Consortium's
roles is therefore to be a place where users of the language can meet
and exchange information. It is here that a true community will be
created with the specific intention of assisting in the development of
the language and to provide it with such a visibility that this
community will expand by itself.
The motivation and industrial importance of its members will also
attract companies to the Consortium which want to be present on the
Caml applications and training market. Another role of the Consortium
will therefore be to attract new members, whether they are users of
the language or service providers.
Finally, the Consortium will provide a response to the question on the
language's continuity. The essential elements for the continuity of a
programming language are the continuity of its compilers (or their
free availability), its user base, and the volume of existing (stable)
codes. The success of the Caml Consortium will make it possible to
measure the user base and the volume of the existing Caml code. As for
the availability and development of the Caml compilers, these are
already freely distributed with their sources. If INRIA decides at
some point to withdraw from Caml development, and therefore to
dissolve the Caml Consortium as it presently stands, the members of
the Consortium will be sufficiently numerous, they will have
sufficiently diversified profiles, and the market for the language
will be such that the members of the Consortium will have no
difficulty in continuing the existence and development of the
language. INRIA will facilitate this transition, which is in the
How the Consortium functions
The Caml Consortium comprises INRIA on the one hand, and the members
on the other hand. Formally, membership of the Consortium takes place
by signing a standard agreement
between the member and INRIA. Since one of the Consortium's aims is to
collect the funds which will be entirely devoted to the development
and promotion of Caml, membership of the Consortium implies payment of
Membership of the Consortium represents a sort of sponsorship of the
design and development activities around Caml. Of course, the member
is under no obligation to use Caml, but on the other hand, has no
particular right on the Caml system.
The Caml Consortium will have a Scientific Committee where each member
will be represented and which will meet twice a year. The chairmanship
of the Scientific Committee will be held by INRIA, and the purpose of
the Committee will be to examine the work carried out within the
framework of the Consortium, to prepare the activities organised by
the Consortium (conference of Caml users, for example), and to set a
program of work to be carried out in the following months.
Hence, the meetings of the Scientific Committee will give members of
the Consortium the opportunity to comment on the work carried out, to
suggest future work and to contribute to their definition.
Of course, as far as possible, a consensus will be sought when
decisions are taken by the Scientific Committee. However, the members
of the Consortium will only have a consultative role, and no formal
voting mechanism will be set up for taking these decisions, the final
ones being the responsibility of INRIA representative. This process
will ensure the harmonious development of the Caml system.
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