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[Caml-list] Alternative proposal: COAN
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Date: 2003-02-24 (16:54)
From: Benjamin C. Pierce <bcpierce@s...>
Subject: [Caml-list] Alternative proposal: COAN
Although I share the impulse behind the recent discussions about
improving the standard library, I wonder if it is actually missing the
main point: there are *already* lots of improvements on the standard
library out there -- the Unison project has one; probably there are at
least a dozen better ones out there -- but nobody can find them!  This
leads to an idea for a different way of soaking up people's hacking
energies...  :-)

The single thing that I think would make the biggest difference for the
OCaml community is a central repository for OCaml source code --
something analogous to the CPAN archive for PERL modules.  I'm aware of
all the thorny problems involved in really doing something like this
"right" for OCaml, but frankly I'd rather have something simple and
useful, now, than the right thing, someday.  The CDK was an impressive
attempt to do the right thing, but it was too ambitious and sank under
its own weight.

The minimal functionality that seems needed is something like this:
   - a single repository (on somebody's web server, or maybe SourceForge)
     where stuff lives 
   - an easy way for authors to upload stuff to the repository (and to
     re-upload new versions of their stuff)
   - an easy way for users to browse and download stuff
   - some way (at least informal) to indicate dependencies between one
     thing and another in the repository

Of course, much more functionality could be imagined and wished for
(e.g., a machine-readable representation of dependencies, provisions for
mutiple versions, standard installation procedures, documentation
standards, etc., etc.), but all that can be added later, in light of
experience.  For now, let's let a thousand flowers bloom... and just
encourage them to bloom in the same garden!

    - Benjamin

Dept. of Computer & Information Science      
University of Pennsylvania                                    +1 215 898-2012
200 South 33rd St.                                       Fax: +1 215 898-0587
Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA      
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