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If OCaml were a car
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Date: 2007-08-22 (06:04)
From: Luca de Alfaro <luca@d...>
Subject: Re: [Caml-list] If OCaml were a car
Backward compatibility is of the UTMOST importance.
Developers tend to assume that people who wrote package X can always adapt
it to new conventions, but often this is just not true: the developers may
be working on other things now, their interests may have shifted, and great
packages get left behind and are eventually lost.

Let's make an example: George Necula in Berkeley wrote (with his students)
CIL, a superb front-end to C code analysis.  Suppose the Ocaml syntax
changes in a non-trivial way.  Would he be willing, and have time, to fix
CIL?  To spend his time in a job with zero innovation content, and lots of
frustration?  It is anyone's bet.  And what about in five years from now?
Who knows?

There is a point in which people move on, and it is very important that
software continues to work in a stable way, or we are losing great work all
the time -- and there is some great work that is not easy at all to redo.
Yes, the language survives, but the software not always.


On 8/19/07, Stefano Zacchiroli <zack@bononia.it> wrote:
> On Sun, Aug 19, 2007 at 06:07:16PM +0100, Richard Jones wrote:
> > It's not likely that the syntax can be changed (how is the revised
> > syntax doing lately?) but there is one error message which could be
> Well, yes, the syntax can be changed and it isn't hard either.
> It's just a matter of stating something like «from version x.y the
> official syntax is the revised one, you can use the provided converter
> for migrating your old code to the new syntax». Other languages have
> seen similar migrations in the past and they survived.
> Point is that upstream OCaml authors have never acknowledged that the
> current syntax is more than sub-optimal and the fear of missing backward
> compatibility has done the rest.
> The revised syntax is far better, but there has never been the
> willingness to push it.
> Cheers.
> --
> Stefano Zacchiroli -*- PhD in Computer Science ............... now what?
> zack@{cs.unibo.it,debian.org,bononia.it} -%- http://www.bononia.it/zack/
> (15:56:48)  Zack: e la demo dema ?    /\    All one has to do is hit the
> (15:57:15)  Bac: no, la demo scema    \/    right keys at the right time
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