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Estimating the size of the ocaml community
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Date: 2005-02-03 (20:06)
From: skaller <skaller@u...>
Subject: Re: [Caml-list] Estimating the size of the ocaml community
On Fri, 2005-02-04 at 05:06, Thomas Fischbacher wrote:

> Anyway, this leaves us with a very interesting question: how many people 
> actually do believe in the value of Ocaml? I, for myself, use it whenever 
> it is the most appropriate tool for a job (usually, when portability is 
> an issue). This is sometimes the case, but more often than not, LISP 
> turned out to be a better choice for what I do.

Well ..

[skaller@pelican] ~/links/flx/src>wc *.ml
  89737  342248 3223570 total

90K Camls here speak for themselves ..

Ocaml has four downsides from my viewpoint:

(a) interfacing to C isn't trivial
(b) native code compiler on x86 can't make a shared library

To a large extent these two factors are not only
the reason for those 90K lines (which implement a 
compiler) but also the reason I'll probably have to
bootstrap the compiler away from Ocaml.

(c) the Cathedral+Bazaar development
model of the language, about which I have mixed feelings.
This seems to be good for the core compiler, but gets in
the way of improving the other tools and the library.

(d) Not many Open Source developers know Ocaml,
so it is hard to get help on Open Source projects

However none of these factors relate to Ocaml as a *language*
on its own, they're all industrial concerns.

I also use C/C++ (for C/C++ compatibility -- lol!) 
and Python (for rapid development/scripting).

Felix aims to replace all of them (high performance
functional and procedural code with rapid 
prototyping/scripting harness and C/C++ compatibility),
but I wouldn't dream of building it without a high
level language such as Ocaml as the bootstrap.

So apart from being the build tool for the current
version, Ocaml is also the principle inspiration
for the design, which is another 'value' of Ocaml
that should not be discounted, and in keeping
with its role as a combined academic/research and
industrial language. Other languages (JoCaml, C/XDuce ..
many more see the Humps) would also credit Ocaml
not only as the build tool, but also a key source
of inspiration, and many use the Ocaml runtime
even though the source language is distinct.

On the flip side, a huge industrial user base
might be a signicant impediment to improvements
to Ocaml -- at present the INRIA team can assume
a client base fairly receptive to changes and willing
to give the implementors considerably latitude
in many areas.

John Skaller,
voice: 061-2-9660-0850, 
snail: PO BOX 401 Glebe NSW 2037 Australia
Checkout the Felix programming language