Subject: Re: What Lisp needs to beat Java, etc.
From: Erik Naggum <>
Date: 2000/11/25
Newsgroups: comp.lang.lisp
Message-ID: <>

* "Aaron K . Johnson" <>
| It occurs to me that lesser languages like Java, etc. succeed in the
| modern world where Lisp seems like a computer science lesson from days
| of old because they have, or are perceived to have, an easy way to
| write/design a GUI, and to integrate well with low-level OS
| libraries/functions.

  Are you referring to ANSI Common Lisp, the Standard, when you make
  these claims?  If so, do you consider standardization of a language to
  be a negative aspect of its usability?  In other words, would you
  rather use an unstandardized language with many useful bells and
  whistles over a standardized language with many useful, unstandardized
  bells and whistles?

  All too many of those who complain about Common Lisp have very little
  idea what they can do with the language in the available environments,
  and seem awfully preoccupied with specific (free) implementations and
  what they can do, just like they are willing to use one-implementation
  "languages" in ways they _claim_ they would never use a standardized
  language, so one must assume that they have some sort of weird hangup
  against implementation-specific features unless there is only _one_

| I love Lisp, but there are things that I would never attempt with it
| that I would do in a snap with Python (actually a great language).

  I'm extremely wary of people who say "I love Lisp, but ...".

  There is _nothing_ I would not write in Common Lisp, because just like
  Python and whatever other "great" tools are out there, somebody had to
  write them and they chose a to build a _language_ to make that tool.
  Well, guess what?  Common Lisp is the language-building language par
  excellence.  Why do you need a whole new syntax and cruft just to add
  a few nice pieces?  That's just an insane abuse of scarce resources,
  and a completely misguided notion of "competition".

| I could use TK or WxPython to design a GUI frontend to my functions in
| less than an hour.

  Good for you!  Have you tried Allegro CL's GUI builder?

| Java, Python, Perl, Tcl/Tk etc. also are "web aware", i.e. they
| acknowledge that for a language to be "hot", it has to appeal to the
| web-using public, and be usable for the web by the web-using public.

  Only Java is web-aware qua language as far as I can tell.  The rest
  have some software written _in_ their language that could make a claim
  to being web-aware, but qua language?  No way!

  You are not really talking about languages, Aaron, but about tools.
  If you insist on comparing tools with languages, languages must lose.
  An application with an input language that can modify its behavior is
  very different from a full-blown programming language with a separate
  specification from its implementations, plural.

| When Lisp gets its elegance across, as well as having easy access to
| all the things people like about things like Tcl/Tk, Java, Perl,
| Python; and not just obscure kits like Garnet, etc.

  So what's wrong with the _language_ Common Lisp because of this?

| There's only one Python, Perl, and Tcl/Tk, and that helps them stay
| central and release one version of the language--not the fragmented
| state of affairs that both Lisp as a language and Linux as an OS
| suffer.

  And what would happen if you added all the stuff that you want to
  Common Lisp?  I cannot see how it could possibly lead to _less_
  fragmentation.  You would not use the software written in Common Lisp
  if it were there because it is not part of the language (standard),
  and so there is no way for Common Lisp to overcome that "I love Lisp,
  but" stand that you have chosen to take, is there?

  Where, exactly, did you look before you decided what Lisp is missing?

  The _only_ way you can get better able to use Common Lisp is, *gasp*,
  to _use_ Common Lisp, just like someone decided to _use_ Python, Perl,
  etc.  If some hypothetical "I love Perl, but ..." crowd had complained
  like you do, _nothing_ of what you apparently like about these tools
  would ever have happened.  Why do these people just get the work done?
  Is it because do _not_ "love" their languages?  Why is it OK to use
  "love" for Common Lisp as an excuse _not_ to use it?

#:Erik, seriously annoyed.
  Solution to U.S. Presidential Election Crisis 2000:
    Let Texas secede from the Union and elect George W. Bush their
    very first President.  All parties, states would rejoice.