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[Caml-list] Completeness of "Unix" run-time library
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Date: 2004-03-18 (11:23)
From: Nicolas Cannasse <warplayer@f...>
Subject: Re: OCaml's Cathedral & Bazaar (was Re: [Caml-list] Completeness of "Unix" run-time library)
> I broadly agree with Matt's analysis of the situation.  Here are some
> observations of my own.
> (1) Perl gets along quite nicely with a loosely defined and broadly
> distributed standard library.  However what Perl has which OCaml does
> not is a central repository (CPAN) where you can find all those
> libraries.  I don't just mean find pointers to the libraries (the
> Humps), but I mean a place where you can get the actual source.

I don't think the main issue is technical. I'm not sure that a CPAN will
help OCaml to spread, that it will turns the community into a self
organizing decentralized one that makes the power of Perl, Python and other
languages out there. OCaml have more social issues. Let's see the facts :

A programming language need either a very good community support (so the
whole community is helping developping it) or a very good businness backup
( Sun and Java ). OCaml doesn't have any : the community is mainly academic
folks that are using OCaml as a (very useful) tool for their research, the
INRIA is a centralized system with only small openness to user's
contributions - through the wish list for example, neither having a whole
team of people working 24/7 at improving the language (they're academics
people, they need time to write papers, attend conferences, etc.). Industry
adoption of ocaml is in earlier stages, and is not enough wide to push the
language as fast as expected from the community.

The language itself is still evolving, there is people doing great work on
OCaml itself or other librairies, but a lot of OCaml hackers here are
feeling quite quickly frustrated with the social interactions, the void of
official answers when some important questions are raised, and the unability
to simply discuss about what should be added/modified in the standard
library. There is several ways of dealing with this :
- keep continuing without changing anything, but how much time will Ocaml
continue being the best language around ?
- try to build librairies with the hope that they'll one time become
standard (de facto , or integrated into official release) : that's what
we're doing with ExtLib ( http://ocaml-lib.sf.net )
- ask INRIA to open source OCaml ( means : either GPL or recruit language
team among community hackers )
- stop writing Ocaml, and switch to another language with better community
- write your own language, and build your own community :-)

One question is : will we get a single official answer to this thread ?

Nicolas Cannasse

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