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[Caml-list] ocaml complexity
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Date: 2001-06-06 (18:23)
From: Charles Martin <charles@c...>
Subject: Re: [Caml-list] ocaml complexity

>I feel that these other languages were much easier to learn.

There is a well established pedagogy for Lisp, Scheme, and ML which does not exist for OCaml.  The resources that are available are a bit more difficult for the novice to find and to use; for example, the tutorial for Caml (not OCaml), which the novice might pass by thinking it's not relevant, or books that are in French (only) or only available on order from Amazon for over $100.

I think a slight reorganization of the manual could help.  Right now, new users first see a tidy introduction to the "core language," and are then immediately thrown into a discussion of labels, "commuting labels mode", and polymorphic variants.  The novice wonders: Is this important?  Can I ignore it?  Who knows?  Let's skip ahead: the next section of the manual covers objects, parameterized classes, coercions, etc.  More confusion.

Once up to speed on OCaml and a regular reader of caml-list, the novice will realize that objects, labels, and polymorphic variants are not in wide use.  Indeed, they weren't included in the "core language" discussion.  But modules appear to be more central to how OCaml is actually used.

Perhaps the manual could be restructured to make this clear:

        PART I - Introduction to OCaml

                The core language
                The module system

        PART II - Advanced Topics

                Objects in Caml
                Advanced examples with classes and modules
                Labels and variants

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