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[Caml-list] Is Caml a fraud ( especially on Windows )?
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Date: 2002-10-18 (13:23)
From: Pierre Weis <pierre.weis@i...>
Subject: Re: [Caml-list] Is Caml a fraud ( especially on Windows )?

> But then I started to do preliminary studies. Since I was busy with
> other things it would be about 2 months before I could start to
> seriously study it. In the mean time I was going to set up the
> programming environments in my spare time.
> The first thing that happened was a comment made in the Caml
> mailing list. The comment basically said that I was making a mistake
> starting with Caml because it was so "special" that I would never go
> onto the next language. I found this to be a terribly worrying
> comment. Especially since it came from one of the OCaml developers.

I suppose I am responsible of ``the first thing that happened'' since
you are refering to my answer to your message announcing urbi et orbi
that Objective Caml would be your «language of the year».

So, let me first recall here what was my message:

     I must warn you that Caml is a bit special: it is known as extremely
     addictive. Many people that learnt it seriously, just don't want to
     give it up and go back to real programming with *p++ or
     null pointers ...

     You have to consider that before trying Caml: it could very well be
     your last attempt to learn a new language.

     A better (and more cautious) approach would be to try all other
     languages first (it ensures that the process will long for years) and
     at the end, last but not least, try Caml :)

     All the best for trying to learn Caml!

I thaught it was clear that this was a kind of joke (given the
expressiosn "a bit special", "extremely addictive", "your last
attempt", "it ensures that the process will long for years") and a
sort of warm encouragement to keep on learning Caml, as testified by
the smiley and the last phrase.

However, even if you have no sense of humor at all (which is perfectly
admissible), this message, even read with no ``grano salis'' at all,
was in no mean telling you that you were making a mistake by starting with

I would have been glad if you had understood: ``cool, he says I will
spare years by choosing at once the right language to learn'', and if
you had answered in the same humoristic manner.

Furthermore, there is no lie in this message, it just told you the
truth: the phrase

   "Many people that learnt it seriously, just don't want to
    give it up and go back to real programming with *p++ or null
    pointers ..."

is just a fact that we routinely observe.

O please, read the phrase carefully: it says ``people ... dont' WANT
to give it up''; in practice, even if they don't want to, Caml
programmers often have to go back to X++ or Y#, just to earn their

> Often times when you see proponents say things like this, you soon
> discover the emperor has no clothes. Such statements are often made
> by people who lack diversity of experience in other programming
> languages. 

I suggest, you should not state such fact without justification: I
mean, you don't even know the emperor, nor where he lives or what he
looks like.

Second, if I am one of the ``people who lack diversity of experience
in other programming languages'' that you mentioned, I'm just
wandering if you know some facts about me, that could let you say so ?

To my own knowledge, I have a pretty good experience on other
programming languages, having written programs in a large number of
them and having studied for years their syntax, static and dynamic
semantics. I also have taught a lot of them to hordes of students.

> This causes a certain sort of tunnel vision in the way they perceive
> things. Tools like debuggers are overestimated in their capabilities.
> Languages features are touted way beyond their benefit. 

I think you may have overlooked the capabilities of our debugger and
you may just ignore our language features, their orthogonality and

Also: don't forget that we have nothing to sell. Everything is free
here. The implementors team is made of programmers that are top-class
computer scientists. They never lie! In the first place for ethical
reasons, but I agree that you may not buy this esoteric reason. So,
may be more convincing to you, they do not lie just because lying is
highly counterproductive for them: they will instantaneously loose
their credibility in the scientific communauty (that also carefully
reads this public mailing list). Credibility is of tremendous
importance for computer scientists since it is so incredibly difficult
to obtain.

So please, refrain from saying that we are lying: this is insulting
and just plain wrong.

Pierre Weis

INRIA, Projet Cristal,,

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