Subject: Re: Lisp considered too hard
From: (Erik Naggum)
Date: 1995/06/26
Newsgroups: comp.lang.lisp
Message-ID: <>

[Scott Wheeler]

|   Of course you could now use RTTI in ANSI-draft C++. I'm puzzled as to 
|   how one would use a list of completely unrelated objects though.

the typical "stack" is such a list.  if we consider "list" a little
relaxedly, so is the typical "file system".  of course, "completely" may
have to be relaxed, too.

|   Buy a different reference book, you've got a dud :-). PJ Plauger's
|   "Standard C library" is about 3/4" thick, contains complete source code
|   and hints on appropriateness of use, and it would take me about 15s to
|   find the functions - although I'd actually use the online help from my
|   compiler.

I have actually timed myself (aren't computers great?) when I need to look
something up in CLtL2.  I average 11 seconds to find what I'm looking for,
usually by going through the very good index.  15 seconds sounds excessive.
man, it adds up to _days_ during a lifetime.

|   More relevant is that C etc. use libraries, whereas Lisp generally uses
|   language extensions.

Bjarne Stroustrup doesn't think those two are such opposites as you imply.
(no, he's not my hero, he's a very smart gone very berserk.  doesn't mean
he won't do a lot of good in between.)

|   Take the loop construct as an example.

the loop construct is quite atypical, but I assume you know that.

|   Of course this ability to extend the language is a major strength of
|   Lisp in the research environment, but generally it's the last thing I'd
|   want showing up in code in a commercial project that has to be
|   maintained by someone other than the author.

a new class extends the C++ type system, Scott, including operator
overloading, conversion of objects of various types, etc, etc.  much worse
than Lisp, IMNSHO.  people seem to want them in commercial projects all the
time.  (strictly speaking, I don't know whether they are maintained. :)

it actually seems that language evolution is now in vogue.  all my favorite
tools have cancer.  there's a new syntax for one of them every other day,
and what do you know?  people are actually jumping up and down screaming
for _more_ new syntaxes and _more_ hard-to-learn things in those languages.
Lisp is to blame because it did all this _years_ before these guys picked
it up, so the language evolution in Lisp requires people to study a lot and
know a lot of weird science before they can usefully extend the language.
take a look a the Scheme crowds (plural!).  they have "language extension"
written all over them these days.  Lisp is to blame because it only let a
few arrogant know-it-alls do it on their own so the new kid on the chip
couldn't put his favorite construct in there.  no wonder he doesn't want to

seriously, this too, Lisp did before everybody else.  I sometimes wonder if
there is a cosmic constant for how many times something must be reinvented
before it is considered fully invented.  or maybe it's just the old adage
about pioneers never getting to reap the fruits of their labor.

#<Erik 3013169860>
NETSCAPISM /net-'sca-,pi-z*m/ n (1995): habitual diversion of the mind to
    purely imaginative activity or entertainment as an escape from the
    realization that the Internet was built by and for someone else.