Subject: Re: LispWorks status
From: Erik Naggum <>
Date: 1999/11/06
Newsgroups: comp.lang.lisp
Message-ID: <>

* Fernando D. Mato Mira
| Now, how do you know I haven't actually spent 1 hour on the phone
| constructively talking with the people at X in another continent at our
| own expense?

  geez.  just tell me what you did, and I might approve, but this is just
  getting silly.  if you think you can argue based on keeping stuff secret
  until you think you can win an argument by disclosing it in a way that
  implies that somebody ought to have known what you kept secret, you're
  sadly mistaken and less constructive that I suspected to begin with.

| I wouldn't have to take this out in public if others weren't hinting
| people to make their own decisions based on a single criterion.

  as far as I can see, nobody is doing that, and anyone who bases their
  decisions on a single criterion aren't worth spending time on, anyway,
  since you are _very_ unlikely to be the next single criterion and are
  probably not going to multiply the criteria, either.

| A final note: immediately after their Lucid acquisition, Harlequin had
| maybe even more Top Gun talent than Franz.

  which might imply that Franz Inc is the "underdog" in some people's view,
  and that it is just as silly to base your decisions on which product to
  buy on a single criterion as to choose which is the "underdog" on a single
  criterion.  (it seems to me as if "underdog" is your criterion of choice.)

| Your comments may sometimes give someone the impression that their
| technology is not good, and unless you've also seen their source code (I
| know you've seen Franz's), I believe a bit more of tact is in order.

  I fail to see how you could possibly conclude that I think or imply or
  even want to communicate that their TECHNOLOGY is not good.  Harlequin
  has made some technical decisions that I don't approve of, and Franz Inc
  has made some of their own, which should come as no surprise to anyone --
  neither I nor any company can be expected never to make mistakes or even
  dumb decisions for which "do not approve" is the only viable sentiment
  either way -- but these are usually _survivable_ differences, especially
  in a language as good as Common Lisp.  that I don't like IDEs has been a
  motivation for me to urge Franz Inc to keep Emacs for the Windows port of
  Allegro CL (I was worried they would scuttle it from all the hype about
  the IDE for Windows), but I'm open to learning what IDEs can offer and I
  try them out every once in a while to see whether they suffer from the
  typical GUI illness: anti-scalability of functionality.

  however, Harlequin has made several _political_ and _financial_ decisions
  that I don't like at all, and Franz Inc hasn't made any such decisions.
  on the contrary, both their free and commercial Linux (and FreeBSD) ports
  were decisions I approved of very strongly, and they do other stuff that
  is concurs with my sentiments.  I have also been worried at times, such
  as when 5.0 took a _long_ time to come out, and I'm always afraid that
  people who flirt with the Evil Empire and begin to depend on their APIs
  will wind up killed in the insane rush to keep up with whatever the Evil
  Empire decides to break between releases and fixes.  however, they have
  _not_ wasted enormous amounts of energy on failing endeavors that nearly
  killed them, and that, to me, is quite important.  fiscal responsibility
  is important.  that Harlequin laid off a bunch of excellent people in a
  pretty rash move and nearly croaked soon thereafter is _not_ something I
  consider beneficial when deciding whether to trust somebody, and I'm not
  going to pity them with an "underdog" label, either.  trust in companies
  is a really big deal to me -- it's why I don't ever want to use anything
  that comes out of Microsoft, for instance.

  your "underdog" may be in a position right now to make a lot of easy
  money from products whose costs are no longer a part of the company
  budgeting because of the acquisition.  I'm very critical of the process
  wherein a company badly run ends up having their creditors (not their
  investors and customers) pay for development projects that can then be
  priced way below any competitor's ability to compete without going
  through a reorganization of their own to scuttle their debts.  I am not
  privy to the exact process that Harlequin went through, but I have seen
  companies that sell stuff too cheaply cut their costs through deliberate
  reorganization sufficiently often and the attendant ramifications for
  their competitors are so grim that I'm not at all pleased with the point
  of view that such people are also worthy "underdogs" because they got
  their creditors to bail them out.  I am very happy that they survived
  this ordeal intact, but they should be prepared to prove that they did
  learn from the experience and are now fiscally responsible and ensure
  that they get enough income from their sales so as not to have to repeat
  the same stunt later.  going for too low prices is not reassuring to me.

  I'd be much happier with a more level playing field than this talk about
  "underdogs" and the negative attitudes towards policies that _haven't_
  caused anybody financial problems.

  also, as I have said before and might as well repeat: I don't think Lisp
  can win by competing with unprofessional languages.  Common Lisp is a
  language you mature into, after you've fought a bunch of other languages
  and come to understand something much more complex and lasting than how
  to make individual functions run fast with machine integers and addresses
  (which is a valuable thing, of course, but like potty training, you don't
  stop there).  as a "graduate" language, I don't want it to be something
  you choose out of low entry costs.  students of the language should be
  able to pick it up for free, essentially, but should also realize what
  they have got their hands on and be willing to share their productivity
  gains and the values they create because of this superior tool with the
  tool-maker.  it's when the tool is essentially a commodity on its own
  that it makes sense to demand no royalties or cooperation with the tool
  vendor, and Lisp doesn't stand a chance of becoming a commodity language,
  so it's counter-productive in the extreme to attempt to jump-start the
  process by removing the means of ensuring cooperative success between
  system and application vendor.

  this obviously doesn't mean that I think people shouldn't make small Lisp
  applications and find ways to sell them at a rewarding profit -- after
  all, I have grown up in a country with >50% tax on reasonable incomes,
  28% corporate tax, and a 23% sales tax, so I'm not going to suggest that
  any companies adopt similar measure to kill their future -- but it is
  entirely appropriate to set the expectations at sharing, since small Lisp
  applications haven't been the norm so far, and that's _not_ because of
  the royalties policies, like some would have you believe.