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OCaml for Industry
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Date: 2005-08-08 (21:10)
From: Jeremy O'Donoghue <jeremy.odonoghue@g...>
Subject: Re: [Caml-list] OCaml for Industry
On 08/08/05, Nicolas Cannasse <warplayer@free.fr> wrote:
> >
> > Whilst considering future projects, it occurred to me that a management
> report
> > along the lines of "OCaml for Industry" might be a viable product. Such a
> > book could explain the utility of OCaml in overall terms (for managers and
> > investors) as well as detailing the benefits, costs and various ways of
> > adopting OCaml in industrial projects.
> >
> > I'd like to hear from anyone who thinks their company might buy such a
> > management report (for around 800UKP) and anyone who can provide
> information
> > about case studies of OCaml having been used in industry.
> >
> That's bad news that nobody answered to this interesting topic within one
> week.
> As for buying a report, it might be nice to freely provide some results and
> trends and then sell the "full report" if it's what you want to do.

One of the problems with the idea of 'OCaml for Industry' is that
Industry can mean many things. In my case, 'industry' means the
development of complex real-time embedded software, generally
targetted at mobile telecomms.

With my manager's hat on, I don't want to know that OCaml is good for
(say) commercial games design. I need to make a case for it in my
industry (sadly this is hard in my case - no ARM target). I probably
can't get the cash to pay for a report, to assist in decision making.

However, many managers do have the ability to recommend the use of
consultants to train and mentor their teams, once the decision to do a
pilot has been made. This is often surprisingly easy, but it usually
takes an enthusiastic evangelist to get things moving.

This person probably knows 80% of the issues and pitfalls already. The
other 20% - well, they probably can't get funding to pay for a report
to help in this area, and that's what the pilot is there to find out.
In my opinion you'd be better off giving the report away (probably via
mailing list) with the expectation that if you make a good case you'll
see the return via consultancy, training and support contracts.

> My company is using OCaml is a lot of our projects, mainly for development
> tools (compilers, level generators, resources builders... ). It's perfectly
> suitable in the case where you need to manipulate a lot of data structures
> and apply algorithms to them.

Much the same for me. The advantage, in this field, is that the writer
of the tool generally 'owns' it forever, and the company doesn't much
care how the tool was written as long as it works. Same for utilities
which generate C/C++.

Moving slightly OT, if you want to penetrate industry, what is needed
is good, clear documentation, tutorials, good quality training,
support. OCaml lacks many of these. Serious indistrial adoptors will
pay for them. My employer spends many thousands of pounds per software
engineer per year on training, and pretty vast amounts on support as
well. We already play well with some leading-edge Open Source teams
(although we don't make a fuss about whom), but it's generally been in
the areas of training and support that the real money is spent.


> Nicolas
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