Previous Contents Next

Future of Objective CAML development

It is difficult for a new language to exist if it is not accompanied by the important development of an application (like Unix for C) or considerable commercial and industrial support (like SUN for JAVA). The intrinsic qualities of the language are rarely enough. Objective CAML has numerous qualities and some defects which we have described in the course of this chapter. For its part, Objective CAML is sustained by INRIA where it was conceived and implemented in the bosom of the CRISTAL project. Born of academic research, Objective CAML is used there as an experimental laboratory for testing new programming paradigms, and an implementation language. It is widely taught in various university programs and preparatory classes. Several thousand students each year learn the concepts of the language and practice it. In this way the Objective CAML language has an important place in the academic world. The teaching of computer science, in France, but also in the United States, creates numerous programmers in this language on a practical as well as a theoretical level.

On the other hand, in industry the movement is less dynamic. To our knowledge, there is not a single commercial application, developed in Objective CAML, sold to the general public and advertising its use of Objective CAML. The only example coming close is that of the SCOL language from Cryo-Networks. There is however a slight agitation in this direction. The first appeals for funding for Objective CAML application startups are appearing. Without hoping for a rapid snowball effect, it is significant that a demand exists for this type of language. And without hoping for a very short-term return on investment either, it is important to take notice of it.

It is now for the language and its development environment to show their relevance. To accompany this phenomenon, it is no doubt necessary to provide certain guarantees as to the evolution of the language. In this capacity, Objective CAML is only just now emerging and must make the choice to venture further out of academia. But this ``entry into the world'' will only take place if certain rules are followed: Some of the points brought up, in particular standardization, can remain within the jurisdiction of academia. Others are only of advantage to industry. Thus everthing will depend on their degree of cooperation. There is a precedent demonstrating that a language can be ``free'' and still be commercially maintained, as this was the case for the gnat compiler of the ADA language and the ACT corporation.


Previous Contents Next