Subject: Re: superior(?) programming languages
From: Erik Naggum <>
Date: 1996/12/21
Newsgroups: comp.arch,comp.lang.lisp
Message-ID: <>

* Cyber Surfer
| Now you can't accept that I don't like Emacs?

no.  what I don't accept is that your liking Emacs says anything about me
only because I like Emacs.  you can like or dislike whatever you want, but
when you start to draw inferences from your unquestioned likes and dislikes
to the character of other people based solely on their likes and dislikes,
you have entirely left the world of coherent argumentation, and it proves
to be unfruitful to discuss anything with you that requires that you
separate between a premise and any arguments based on it or conclusions
drawn from it.  vice versa, you need to realize that just because the only
premise you can think of that could produce an argument or a conclusion,
does not mean that somebody else even have something _close_ to those
premises backing up their conclusions.

this is such a basic ingredient in argumentation that I'm frankly amazed
that you violate it so blatantly.  I don't know how to talk to anyone who,
upon hearing X, will accuse whoever said X of believing in whatever
blatantly false premises _you_ think you need, in a mockery of logic, to
produce X.  now, if you could please try to understand that a conclusion
that somebody holds is _necessarily_ based upon _something_ constructive,
smart, and good, and look for that, instead of looking for the least valid
premises you can think of, we might get somewhere.  however, this is just
like the silly EVAL arguments: people who argue against EVAL on the premise
that it would create a security hole were CL-HTTPD to accept random code
from any user, are clearly _bereft_ of all insight into what others are
actually arguing for.

I have, as I said, ceased thinking that there _is_ anything constructive in
your arguments.  I can no longer imagine how you can go on the way you do,
based on something you would like to see happen, on something you would
like to do, on something you hope for, etc.  I don't _see_ any traces of
goals, hopes, or dreams.  I see a lot of frustration, and yet you say
you're happy where you are!  you're a living, breathing contradiction!

| Why deny a tool as powerful and neat as Lisp to all these programmers?

your premise that it is being denied them is invalid.  speaking of invalid
premises, your premise that one needs to work with something for 15 years
to appreciate it (or agree with anybody about it being good) is also dead
wrong.  _I_ wouldn't agree with me if one would need 15 years of experience
with Lisp to agree with me.  I decided on Lisp for real in early January
1994.  up until then, I had had a few days every few years when I played
with Lisp systems, as if by rekindling a hope that looked less real than
Santa Claus (as in "yes, Virginia, there _is_ a better way").

| My feeling is that good tools should be available to all programmers.

"feeling"?  "should"?  "all"?  _how_?  by magic?  or by hard work?  but
above all, _why_?  what do you _do_ with your "feeling"?  all I can see is
that it can only lead to frustration and accusations of other people
somehow _denying_ others good tools if they don't give them away!  this is
such an invalid piece of thinking that I cannot even _imagine_ what got you
on this line of reasoning in the first place!

| Would you not call Lisp a good tool?  In what way would improving the
| support for the OS in Lisp tools for Windows hurt you?  That puzzles me.
| Nothing in the Lisp tools that you use need change in the smallest way!
| As I understand it, you use Unix, so how can Lisp software for Windows
| hurt you?

*sigh!*  _more_ completely invalid premises.  whenever did supporting
Microsoft platforms ever _hurt_ me?  where do you _get_ these sick ideas?

incidentally, I'm programming in Franz' Allegro for Unix on two projects,
one of them being deployed in Allegro for Windows, Microsoft NT, to be
exact.  I'm building a moderately large applications that needs DDE
interfaces to other programs, we're using DLL's produced by Delphi to
handle the user interface, programmed by another programmer who feels it
more urgent to get a working user interface before he learns to do it in
Lisp, which he also wants.  we're looking into the availability of OLE
Automation in the same Lisp system.  this sounds like something you could
have wanted.  indeed, this sounds like something you could have _done_.

still, I'm not at all interested in the Windows-specific cruft.  I learn
how to use these things from the other programmer in this project who is an
expert on Windows and DDE and OLE2 and an amazing array of things I didn't
even know existed two months ago, and I find it fascinating that Allegro
makes so much of this possible for me without the lot of the annoying
menial labor needed in the C examples I see.  incidentally, it seems the
Windows-specific parts will amount to 2% of the compiled code.  this means
I can develop the rest of the system on my own SPARCstation and just bring
a few diskettes with me once a week to show them what has been done and to
have a "backup" on their system.  life doesn't get better than this!

the seemless integration between Franz' Allegro and Emacs of various
flavors on both systems means that I can program from within Emacs, and not
have to learn any of the Windows cruft, like which unintuitive icon does
which unintuitive action.  I talk to Emacs and Allegro, and that's _it_.  I
do the same at home, so the differences are minor.  I use logical pathnames
to save me all the trouble of operating-system specifics in that area, too.
the biggest difference is actually the ugly fonts and the small display
with the low screen resolution on the Windows appliance, compared to the
large displays and the high resolution and good fonts I have at home.

incidentally, it took a couple months (real time) for me to convince these
people that they should buy a commercial Lisp system for Windows.  in the
other project, my (now) project manager called me up and asked if I could
do some network hacking in C for them.  I looked at the problem and said
the network hacking would be trivial, but that they needed a much larger
support system to make it work they way they needed it to, and that that
support system should be written in Lisp for the flexibility and the uptime
requirements they have.  yesterday, I got the final approval to buy Franz'
Allegro Common Lisp software for $15,000.  that's more money than they had
originally planned to pay me for the trivial network coding job.

however, none of this was effortless or came for free!  I have worked
15-hour days and slept at random intervals, barely being outdoors, etc,
since early November, and I can't even charge more than a couple hundred of
those hours to the projects!  still, it would have taken me _much_ more
time and effort had it not been for my Lisp supplier's unyielding support
and good will throughout the process.

what do I want?  I want people who would like to use Lisp to know that
someone out there managed not only to convince people that Lisp was the
best choice for the job, but also to buy a commercial Lisp system that was
never planned for in either of the projects.  what do I want?  I want to
see goal-directed _action_, and I'm sick and tired of people who say that
"hardly anyone talks about Lisp, anymore" or "Lisp support on Windows is so
insufficient that I can't use it".  who cares how _big_ the audience is?  I
care _who_ the audience is, especially if it's a client of mine.  and who
cares what the free Lisp systems can do, when they're spending an order of
magnitude more money on programmer time than the acquisition costs of the
Lisp system?

get yourself Allegro for Windows and see what it can do for you.  it's not
as great as Allegro for Unix, but it's still good.  the free demo CD should
help you see what can be done.  oh, it comes with an Emacs interface if you
buy the Professional version.  be careful now, you might actually like it.

"He didn't care."
"They never do."