Subject: Re: help! absolute beginner From: Erik Naggum <email@example.com> Date: 1998/12/21 Newsgroups: comp.lang.lisp Message-ID: <firstname.lastname@example.org> * email@example.com (Christopher R. Barry) | The CMU AI repository has some public domain regexp code and a lot of | little code bits to do some common tasks. But it's pretty lame compared | to what the, say, perl community has got going for it. There are a lot | of people that put up useful code on their web pages to do some things | but you've got to invest some serious altavista time to find them. A | central repository or categorized links page to where it's all at with | brief discriptions would be really helpful. but why compare to Perl? what is it that made Perl a "success" to make it worth comparing to? why not look at MS-DOS? there are literally millions of small utilities out there that _had_ to be created because the core system was so fantastically useless. similarly, I think the Perl community _had_ to build a whole lot of "useful" stuff -- they had already decided to reinvent the wheel with parts from all other Unix wheels, so of course they'll need to do everything over again in their new syntax. Perl is a "success" in this regard because people who want to use it have no choice. Common Lisp has a _lot_ of tools built in, and it isn't a reinvention of a wheel, so there's less need for this stuff to begin with. I think that's a _good_ thing, actually. Perl is also used for all sorts of stuff that Common Lisp is not, such as systems administration of wacky systems, parsing stupid log file formats, glueing together uncooperative software, etc. none of this is the Common Lisp way. the question I ask people who ask me whether Common Lisp can do what Perl does, is: "do you use Perl for these taks because you want to or because you have to?" very few admit to wanting to, and actually think Perl is good because it lets them do things they already think is useless and ugly fairly quickly. so the followup question: "would you want to use a language in which you didn't have to do those tasks?" and the result is sometimes enlightenment on part of the Perl hacker. not that this converts people or anything, but it tends to communicate my view that Perl is a cure that extends and prolongs the problem rather than fixing it. "oh, but sometimes you can't fix it!", some Perl hackers exclaim, and that's probably right, so Perl has a place in the universe, after all, but that still doesn't mean one shouldn't try to fix them. e.g., instead of trying to live with the multitude of incompatible time formats in the Unix world (especially in logs), let's do something in Common Lisp that really deals with the situation. I think ISO 8601 is a brilliant standard, despite its many abbreviated forms, so I have written a fairly extensive package that uses it as the basis of the input and output of time. as long as the order year-month-day-hour-minute-second is maintained and all fields are numeric, this package can deal with it. (if you want something else, feel free to hack like Perl in the language of your choice.) this is a package I have created for a client on my own time, so I can release it when I feel comfortable in its ability to deal with everything I need. would you set up that central repository or categorized links page to where it's all at with brief discriptions in the meantime? #:Erik -- Attention, Republican members of the House Judiciary Committee! We have intercepted a coded transmission from Bill Clinton to Saddam Hussein that puts your life in jeopardy. Clinton is prepared to cease fire if all of you are killed by Iraqi terrorists, whom he won't prosecute. Be warned!