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[Caml-list] Completeness of "Unix" run-time library
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Date: 2004-03-18 (08:56)
From: Matt Gushee <mgushee@h...>
Subject: OCaml's Cathedral & Bazaar (was Re: [Caml-list] Completeness of "Unix" run-time library)
On Wed, Mar 17, 2004 at 04:19:05PM -0800, Vasili Galchin wrote:

> > and so, those of us who have created bindings for
> > other Posix functions 
> > should
> > try to work with them to get our code merged. This
>      Eric, it sounds to me that you and I are on the
> same page, i.e. in total agreement. What prompted my
> posting is that I feel a tad frustrated when I read
> code that I believe is very good (e.g. Georgi's ipv6
> socket code where he split socket stuff out from
> unix.ml by itself making readibility much better and
> esaier multiple people to work and not having big
> merge problems) and I hear about other code. In both
> cases, these new code seems to have been sitting
> around and not code reviewed and put into CVS, where
> it should be. Also there is a danger of some
> divergence because someone will use some of this
> non-checked in code and it becomes defacto standard.
> So, OCaml community, how do we move forward to get
> this new processed and potentially merged into the
> mainline.

(Sorry about the grandiose title. I have nothing suitably profound to
 say ... just couldn't think of a better way to express the subject.)

I wonder if it is possible to persuade INRIA to do anything.

I have no inside information on the process at INRIA, but my impression
from reading this list over the past year or so is:

 1) The OCaml team at INRIA care about the community, but there are too
    few of them to meet all our needs, and I suppose their work is also
    subject to institutional pressures that we are only vaguely aware
    of. Maybe they are struggling to keep enough resources for OCaml

 2) INRIA as an institution finds it convenient to release OCaml as open
    source, but doesn't really care about the community. They benignly
    neglect everything that doesn't relate to their research goals.

 3) OCaml-as-project (i.e. I'm talking about how OCaml is developed, not
    what it is) is a fragile enterprise. E.g., one developer leaves, and 
    the future of Camlp4 becomes uncertain. Not good.

I'm not saying you should give up hope just yet, but maybe it's time to
consider alternatives.

What if there were an "OCaml Community Library Project"--a group outside
INRIA that would take responsibility for extending and perhaps partially
replacing the standard library--maybe a bit like the current ExtLib
project, only more extensive (BTW, why are there two ExtLibs?? One of
you change the name, please! Thank you.). Maybe if that project showed
itself to be responsible, credible, reliable, etc. etc., after a while
it could become the de facto standard library.

The idealistic scenario is a division of labor wherein INRIA continues
to develop the parts of OCaml that are interesting to them, while other
parts (of more interest to those of us working to create practical
and/or commercial software) would be taken over by the community.

I can't say whether this idea is feasible, or whether INRIA would be
willing to go along with it, but maybe it's something to consider.

Matt Gushee                 When a nation follows the Way,
Englewood, Colorado, USA    Horses bear manure through
mgushee@havenrock.com           its fields;
http://www.havenrock.com/   When a nation ignores the Way,
                            Horses bear soldiers through
                                its streets.
                            --Lao Tzu (Peter Merel, trans.)

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