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JIT-compilation for OCaml?
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Date: 2001-01-06 (21:02)
From: Jonathan Coupe <jonathan@m...>
Subject: Re: JIT-compilation for OCaml?
> And that is exactly the problem in my situation.  The investors (myself
> being one of them) weren't that concerned with the choice of a
> non-mainstream/modern language/system for technical reasons, but we were
> entirely for many, many business reasons.
> I'm sorry, I should have been more explicit.  I meant that if you are
> developing and Open Source product and you'd like large scale involvement,
> choosing OCaml as a source language isn't in your best interest.  While it
> is true that you are likely to get higher quality people involved, the
> source pool is several orders of magnitude smaller than that of Java.
> Joe
> --
> Joseph R. Kiniry                   http://www.cs.caltech.edu/~kiniry/
> California Institute of Technology       ID 78860581      ICQ 4344804

Ironically, my experience would suggest the opposite regarding the
acceptability of Java vs OCaml on business grounds. The project you're
working on seems to be an  ALife video game (a fairly established genre by
now, which is beneficial if you go after investment.) The major source of
funding for such projects is from existing videogame publishers - VC's are
highly allergic to entertainment software. And the videogame industry does
not favour Java, even as a scripting language. (I won't go into the reasons
for this, or whether that view is correct.) The use of game scripting
languages with very similar characteristics toOCaml is well accepted
however - search +GOOL +"Crash Bandicoot" for an example. Typically game
companies write their own scripting languages. Using a well-supported and
tested open source language may well be an idea whose time has come.

The key questions in my mind are how well OCaml works in a situatuion when
its being called from a C++/C program, and how easily portable it is to new
platforms (contrarily, I haven't heard of any plans to launch a high
performance Java compiler for the PS2.)

As for the lack of experienced OCaml programmers, competent programmers in
the videogame industry have learnt Lisp-based languages like GOOL, or
pure(ish) OO languages in just days, often with only experience of C to draw
upon. For an open source project, things may be different. My impression is,
however, that Java is considered extremely uncool by the open source
community, partly because of licensing issues, partly because some many
influential members of the community don't like Java. C, Perl, Python, TCL -
and even the Squeak dialect of Smalltalk and Scheme (consider GIMP and
Guile) - seem to rate much higher.

Jonathan Coupe