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Date: 2009-03-31 (13:37)
From: Kuba Ober <ober.14@o...>
Subject: Re: [Caml-list] questions
> the following are the most visible ocaml tutorials, but are low  
> quality, blog like, full of misleading characterizations,  
> irrevelancies, misleading comparisons. The type that you'd spend  
> hours on and got more confused, regardless whether you are a expert  
> logician or expert industrial programer. These tutorial's quality  
> and nature are similar to the ones you'd find of the freely bundled  
> official tutorials from perl, java, or even haskell. Typically  
> written as a revised diary of learning experiences by student  
> programers, or by academicians who are llliterate in technical  
> writing.
> • intro to ocaml, from official site
> http://caml.inria.fr/pub/docs/manual-ocaml/manual003.html
> • “Objective CAML Tutorial”, most cited tutorial on the web
> http://www.ocaml-tutorial.org/
> There are 3 or so more ocaml tutorials i've looked on the web, from  
> the first page of google search with word “ocaml tutorial”. I don't  
> think they are not worth your time.
> -------------------------
> I'd be good if the ocaml managers perhaps thru some arrangement, to  
> borrow Jon Harrop's chapter 1, or other quality sources, in  
> replacement of the tutorial on the official site. Because, a quailty  
> tutorial bundled with the official release has great impact. The  
> official tutorial makes the first impression of the lang for most  
> people.
>   Xah

There must be some reason why the manual and other materials on the  
official site are of such poor quality. I've thought a bit about it,  
and the only reason I see is that the authors do not have a feel for  
what it takes to learn/understand/use that language. They obviously  
know it all through, but that's still far removed from being able to  
explain it to someone else. I don't know, of course, how it is that  
one understands something "well" yet is not able to explain it to  
somebody else. To me, that's very fragile knowledge. I always thought  
that deep understanding implies an ability to extract what's  
important, and to lead the other person from some "basics" (whatever  
they may be) to the conclusion. Some experience in imperative  
languages can be perhaps expected of the OCaml beginners. But the  
manual, the official tutorial, and even ocaml-tutorial, fall short of  
being really useful - for me. Personally, I found them next to  
useless, but that perhaps has to do with my own shortcomings.

Books that lag behind the current release's features are not all that  
great either -- you find a book that's a good match to your needs, and  
then, after a while, find that you miss on a lot of good stuff that's  
not mentioned in the book. I have two examples of such books: Jon's  
book, and Marcelo DiPierro's web2py book. Both are very good books  
because the authors have a feel for what it takes to understand what  
they talk about. Yet both miss out on some newer features of OCaml and  
web2py, respectively -- features that would be best explained by the  
very same authors!

Cheers, Kuba