[Haskell-cafe] Toy application advice wanted

mikeb at manor.org mikeb at manor.org
Wed May 5 17:16:09 EDT 2004

On Wed, 5 May 2004, Frank Atanassow wrote:

> Frankly, I think it's completely unrealistic to expect to be able to
> fairly evaluate Haskell in 32 hours. As you noted yourself, Scheme and
> Erlang, being strict, are much closer to conventional programming
> languages than Haskell is, so it's easier to transfer skills to them.

Yeah, I'm starting to see the difficulty in recommending a language I can
barely dabble in up the chain (not as bad as pointy hair bosses, but still
not computer scientists).

> Furthermore, they're untyped, and learning how to exploit Haskell's
> static typing is one of the bigger hurdles to learning how to exploit
> Haskell.

That was one of the things that attracted me to Haskell...the type system.
I enjoyed strong typing in ML when I played with it in college.

> At best, I imagine
> you'll come away curious and hungry for more; but clearly that doesn't
> suffice for a "language evaluation".


> Of course, the fact that Haskell can't be grasped in a day (or week)
> can be construed as a practical argument against its adoption. On the
> other hand, if you accept that there's no such thing as a free lunch,
> you might consider that a merit; what is the point of adopting a new
> language if it doesn't change the way you think about programming, and
> let you write old programs in new, perhaps better, ways? [1]

This is the crux of the argument.  I don't understand how we can make good
programming languages more popular.  My son was born just a couple of
weeks ago, and I barely have enough time now to keep up with anything in
my career/field; I was lucky I convinced my management to let me do a
(too-)  brief language survey.  But without having "thought" in Haskell
for at least a couple of months, how can I hope to promote it
successfully?  How can I get a couple of months proficiency in Haskell
unless I've promoted it successfully?  (Co-routines? =)

> While Haskell is IMO the best programming language around, and I want
> to encourage its broader adoption, if you want a well-designed language
> with good implementation and support which permits swifter skill
> transfer, may I (strongly) recommend you add Objective Caml to your
> list of candidates? Once you acquire some experience with an ML-like
> language such as OCaml, which after all resembles Haskell in many ways,
> you will, I believe, find yourself better equipped to evaluate Haskell.

Thanks for this...I actually just added ocaml to my list last night.  I
was looking over the "programming languages shootout" and read some of the
source.  It looks pretty neat.

I spent last night writing a simple object system from scratch in Scheme
with macros, and starting thinking about all the things I'd have to do to
implement any kind of type safety, and it just sort of clicked that ocaml
might be an interesting solution.

Thanks again for your comments (and everyone's).

Mike J. Bell                                This is all just my opinion.
"Outside of a dog, a book is man's best
friend.  Inside it's too dark to read."                  mikeb at manor.org

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