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Re: [Caml-list] Why People Aren't Using OCAML? (was Haskell)
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Date: 2001-03-24 (21:49)
From: Vijay Chakravarthy <vchakravarthy@v...>
Subject: Re: [Caml-list] Why People Aren't Using OCAML? (was Haskell)

----- Original Message -----
From: "Brian Rogoff" <bpr@best.com>
To: "Vijay Chakravarthy" <vchakravarthy@verticalnet.com>
Cc: <mattias.waldau@abc.se>; "Arturo Borquez" <aborquez@altavista.com>;
Sent: Saturday, March 24, 2001 10:38 AM
Subject: Re: [Caml-list] Why People Aren't Using OCAML? (was Haskell)

> On Sat, 24 Mar 2001, Vijay Chakravarthy wrote:
> > We are also trying to use Ocaml out here, mainly for prototyping
> > (at least thats the way I'll introduce it to the rest of the org.)
> > Once they find that rewriting the prototypes in java takes 10 times the
> > effort.....
> And runs at one tenth the speed :-). I laughed at this since one of my
> Caml-hating colleagues recently suggested to my manager (who reads
> this list :) that we rewrite some Java code in a low level language like C
> or OCaml (!) for speed.
> > The main difficulties we have faced have been --
> > a) Education - Out here even for people skilled in scheme and some other
> > functional languages, it is challenging to learn ocaml.
> What have the issues been? I hate to mention this again (and again, ...)
> I find that beginners and non-experts stumble over syntax a lot. Now, it
> clear that Daniel De Rauglaudre is too shy and modest to mention his
> syntax available with CamlP4. If your people have syntax problems (they do
> go away with familiarity IME) then check it out.
I personally dont have problems with the syntax, but I have found that
people take a little bit of time
getting used to the syntax. The simplest way to fix this is not CamlP4
(IMHO), but rather to provide a
lot of examples showing people how to do things they would commonly do. The
three liner Markus posted
in c.l.f for an echo server, for example, helps get buy-in when trying to
convince people this is a cool language,
and that happens primarily through the use of examples. I also understand
that there are a lot of examples
scattered around, but it would be nice to collect all of them in an easy to
look at manner. I believe that
Fredrick Lundh's python ematter book is a good role model in this area.

> > My team found it easier to learn erlang, for example. However, people
> > love the strong type checking, and the fact that if it compiles its
> > likely to run correctly... The english translation of the horse book
> > help.
> Yes, how is that coming? I hope that ugly horse can get replaced by a
> beautiful dromedary.
> > b) As I mentioned in a previous message, support for Windows is weak.
> This might be the kind of thing that the Consortium can help with. If
> enough members want Windows they can kick in for an extensive thin binding
> to Windows services.
Its not that we need binding to Windows services. All that is required is
that the various packages
are as easy to make and use on windows (without installing cygwin). This is
mostly true, except for
some critical packages like findlib, dbm, etc. A dbm interface on windows to
Sleepycats berkeley db
would be great.

> > c) Package availability is fragmented. I have a good idea of various
> > packages etc, but to a newcomer, there is no single place to
> > track down code examples. Plus larger packages like Ensemble, Geneweb
> > contain modules that would be useful in general, but
> > that is visible only when one peruses the source code of such packages.
> Two issues there. First is that some tool like findlib or the Python
> should be part of the toolset. Second is that a big library structure like
> the SML Basis library would be helpful.
> > On the other hand, the language and the libraries are excellent.
> Agreed.
> > Plus functional programming languages are IDEAL for the type
> > of work we do, which is in the enterprise software space.
> I would have said that it's ideal for VLSI design software (any other EDA
> hackers out there?) so maybe it's just ideal for everything?
> > BTW, I dont know if this is the right place for this, but are there any
> > people interested in ocaml programming out here in the
> > San Francisco area?
> Santa Clara (which hasn't had any blackouts!) area but there was an
> attempt at a NoCal OCaml users meeting. Maybe the participants can tell
> you how it went. It's great to hear that the number of industrial OCaml
> programmers is growing!
> -- Brian

Actually, we have two offices, one in SFO, the other in Palo Alto (right
next to Xerox Parc).


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