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What does Jane Street use/want for an IDE? What about you?
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Date: 2008-10-20 (20:32)
From: Kuba Ober <ober.14@o...>
Subject: Re: [Caml-list] What does Jane Street use/want for an IDE? What about you?
> It'd be interesting to hear[1] what exact features of elisp are
> counterproductive for large-scale collaborative programming.
> I've not looked very closely at elisp, but assumed the reason that
> emacs remains "unconfigurable" for most users is because it's Lisp,
> not because of the particular dialect of Lisp.  Most programmers look
> at Lisp and run a mile, and I don't think an OCaml editor will fare
> much better if that is the case.
> FWIW microemacs[2] used a C-like language for configuration and
> extension, and this language was almost laughably incapable of doing
> the most basic things.  You'd think that a language designed for an
> editor would, you know, be able to handle at least strings properly,
> but the microemacs programming language couldn't even do that.
> Nevertheless at the electronics laboratory where I started out,
> electrical engineers (totally unused/untrained as programmers) wrote
> huge macros and extensions in this horrible language.

I can understand that: Lisp does require wrapping your head around it.

Even its library deals with things and concepts that other languages
simply don't offer. Functions that do symbol interning/generation
or say destructuring-bind will elicit blank stares from most engineering
folk -- folk that otherwise may have no problem generating your everyday
C or Matlab code without even blinking. Lisp deals with programming at
a much more abstract level, IMHO -- you can of course write C-like
code in Lisp, but it just feels unnatural to do so, and rightly so.

While it may sound weird, your regular programming experience applies
only halfway to Lisp. The other, important half, you have to acquire
with use of the language. Switching from C or C++ to say Python is
easy, going to OCaml requires perhaps a book but is quite manageable
too, even Haskell IMHO is easier than Lisp! To learn Lisp the right
way you need basically two and a half books (two by Graham, and a
half of "Practical Common Lisp"), and some midnight oil ;) That's
been the case with me.

Cheers, Kuba