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Re: [Caml-list] Whither the Caml Consortium?
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Date: 2001-10-24 (13:20)
From: Rolf Wester <rolf.wester@i...>
Subject: Re: [Caml-list] Whither the Caml Consortium?

> Rolf Wester schrieb am Montag, den 22. Oktober 2001:
> > I think the lack of willingness to support OCaml financially is
> > correlated with the lack of perception of the extent to which OCaml
> > makes software development easier and as a consequence cheaper.
> That's not quite what I think, but it certainly also explains to some
> extent why it is so difficult to gain more members for OCaml in general
> and for the Consortium in particular.
> > Those who use a programming language in their daily work are in many
> > cases not those who decide on money.
> Which is, I fear, most often a good idea... ;)
> > And in order to convince someone to spend money for the development
> > of a product like OCaml (not mainstream, almost no one knows it,
> > there is not even an English text book, no commercial support) one
> > must have very good arguments.
> And it would be unwise to believe that it's only technical arguments
> that are considered here. There simply must be economic incentives to
> convince companies. To say it clearly: a manager who doesn't consider
> the latter is a bad manager. We should really try to avoid our natural
> mindset of enthusiastic technicians or scientists and put ourselves into
> the role of a manager who is responsible for his investment decisions.
The good reasons to use OCaml cannot be "I love it" or "it's fun to program 
in OCaml" but that it makes me more productive (at least when I'm paid
for what I'm doing).

> > I think what could be very helpful is a detailed list of OCaml's
> > strength (and weeknesses if any) compared to languages like C++,
> > Java and also compared to other ML-implementations, Lisp, Haskell,
> > Clean etc.? This list should also include real world examples (not to
> > complicated) to demonstrate OCaml's benefits.
> This does not work. I am sure that most of us have already tried such
> strategies, but they do not convince, because all competing languages
> use buzzwords and lists of "advantages". If you want to convince people,
> write a killer-app in their respective field of interest, otherwise they
> won't even listen.
But even if you have a killer-app written in OCaml you will still have to explain 
to your manager (and even more your colleagues) why you would not have 
been able to write this app in C++ or Java (or why it would have been much
more effort to do it in another language). I think that because competing 
languages are advertised with buzzwords and their list of "advantages" 
OCaml should be advertised too. OCaml's features should be compared to 
other languages and statements made concerning other languages should 
objectively be analyzed and criticized. And if for a certain kind of application
another language is more suitable this should also be clearly stated. I think
this could help those who are looking for an alternative to the main stream
languages and those who have to argue in favour of using OCaml.  
> > Another point could be that people are more likely to spend money
> > for getting a product or support than for supporting someone else to
> > develop a programming language. So why not taking a fee for commercial
> > use of OCaml or for support (Clean, Python, Lisp)?
> Taking a look at companies that base their business on open source,
> I wouldn't say that their strategy "sell services" was particularly
> successful up to now. Mostly, because they overlooked that services have
> a rather strong impact on costs and therefore on profit. Don't forget,
> as soon as you demand fees for your products, you are liable for them
> and no kind of licence will get you around this (at least not in the
> countries I know).
Good point.


Rolf Wester

Rolf Wester
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