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Re: [Caml-list] Why People Aren't Using OCAML? (was Haskell)
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Date: -- (:)
From: Brian Rogoff <bpr@b...>
Subject: Re: [Caml-list] Why People Aren't Using OCAML? (was Haskell)
On Sat, 24 Mar 2001, Vijay Chakravarthy wrote:
> We are also trying to use Ocaml out here, mainly for prototyping purposes
> (at least thats the way I'll introduce it to the rest of the org.)
> Once they find that rewriting the prototypes in java takes 10 times the
> effort.....

And runs at one tenth the speed :-). I laughed at this since one of my
Caml-hating colleagues recently suggested to my manager (who reads
this list :) that we rewrite some Java code in a low level language like C 
or OCaml (!) for speed. 

> The main difficulties we have faced have been --
> a) Education - Out here even for people skilled in scheme and some other
> functional languages, it is challenging to learn ocaml. 

What have the issues been? I hate to mention this again (and again, ...) but 
I find that beginners and non-experts stumble over syntax a lot. Now, it is 
clear that Daniel De Rauglaudre is too shy and modest to mention his Revised 
syntax available with CamlP4. If your people have syntax problems (they do 
go away with familiarity IME) then check it out. 

> My team found it easier to learn erlang, for example. However, people 
> love the strong type checking, and the fact that if it compiles its
> likely to run correctly... The english translation of the horse book should
> help.

Yes, how is that coming? I hope that ugly horse can get replaced by a
beautiful dromedary.

> b) As I mentioned in a previous message, support for Windows is weak. Many

This might be the kind of thing that the Consortium can help with. If
enough members want Windows they can kick in for an extensive thin binding 
to Windows services. 

> c) Package availability is fragmented. I have a good idea of various
> packages etc, but to a newcomer, there is no single place to
> track down code examples. Plus larger packages like Ensemble, Geneweb etc
> contain modules that would be useful in general, but
> that is visible only when one peruses the source code of such packages.

Two issues there. First is that some tool like findlib or the Python distutils 
should be part of the toolset. Second is that a big library structure like 
the SML Basis library would be helpful. 

> On the other hand, the language and the libraries are excellent. 

Agreed. 

> Plus functional programming languages are IDEAL for the type
> of work we do, which is in the enterprise software space.

I would have said that it's ideal for VLSI design software (any other EDA
hackers out there?) so maybe it's just ideal for everything?

> BTW, I dont know if this is the right place for this, but are there any
> people interested in ocaml programming out here in the
> San Francisco area? 

Santa Clara (which hasn't had any blackouts!) area but there was an
attempt at a NoCal OCaml users meeting. Maybe the participants can tell
you how it went. It's great to hear that the number of industrial OCaml 
programmers is growing!

-- Brian

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