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Re: [Caml-list] Alternative proposal: COAN [Chet Murthy]
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Date: 2003-02-28 (21:48)
From: Nikolaj Bjorner <nbjorner@m...>
Subject: Re: [Caml-list] Alternative proposal: COAN [Chet Murthy]
I can't help replying to this thread on the ocaml-list
(and not some other secondary list on libraries,
which I don't subscribe to yet) with some remarks to
hopefully inspire the library/packaging effort.

1. The module system is great, although I never could
   completely submit to that file names dictated a module name
   (indoctrinated by SML).

2. I can download Python with COM extensions in about 10 minutes
   and show colleagues how to script applications after about 2
   minutes. I can then link against a pretty impressive Python
   library without skipping a beat. Simple things are easy in Python.
   Python scripts can be read and written (not as in Perl, which is a
   write-once read-never language, including my own Perl scripts).

   On the other hand, I spent days in vain trying to install,
   for instance, the image manipulation libraries of ocaml,
   because I thought it would be cool to use to automatically
   make a large collection of family photos smaller.
   No such luck under Cygwin/NT. The show-stopper was, as I
   remember, some kind of limitation with the lib/link utility under
   ocaml, which does not work from cygwin or NT, or any of the
   other ocaml/win releases that I tried out (there are 3).

   I would happily use ocaml for scripting jobs, if it were
   as easy to link against special purpose libraries.
   Example: compression is Python:
    "import zlib", then use "zlib.compress", et.c..
   either in a file or from the read-eval loop.

   Compression in Ocaml:
   [for non-linux:] download zlib. from www.zlib.org. Install it.
   Download Xavier's transform, crypto, compress package.
   build/link it with zlib/install it.
   If you are lucky/skillful, you are now ready to go.

Very often, when I attempt to "play" with some ocaml library,
I end up having to hack makefiles that are not entirely portable.
One very positive experience I have had, was with CM (of SML/NJ),
which surely makes many things a lot more streamlined, although it
does not by itself address mixed code (c source, c libraries, et.c),
features of findlib. et.c.

I find this packagability/portability/usability problem as a
pretty high barrier to furthering use of contributions to ocaml
(or at least it is for people who master makefile hacking
as poorly as I do).

It would also truly crack me up when I see somebody package
the libraries with WSDL and provide a web service to find
and install libraries on demand.


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