[Haskell-cafe] Haskell versus Lisp

Mark Carter mcturra2000 at yahoo.co.uk
Fri Sep 16 09:06:55 EDT 2005

Harri Haataja wrote:

 >On Fri, Sep 16, 2005 at 12:34:57PM +0100, Mark Carter wrote:
 >>This is not a troll, honest, so please bear with me ...
 >>It struck me that Lisp was, perhaps, the Ultimate Programming
 >>Language, the One True Language to rule them all; except that I always
 >>kept  abandoning it for one reason or another (fiddly installation,
 >>lack of libraries, compatability problems,  cost, possible license
 >>issues, etc.). My current foray in Haskell seems encouraging.
 >>wxHaskell installed a breeze, and seems quite usable (even though I'm
 >>a raw n00b to the language, and admittedly haven't grokked the
 >>semantics, and all this  <cid:part1.01000702.09000407 at yahoo.co.uk> IO
 >>a -> IO () business). On the one hand, it  seems kinda academic, but
 >>on the other, it looks like it wants to be practical, too.
 >>Bearing this in mind, and hoping you can see where I'm coming from, I
 >>think my question is: shouldn't you guys be using Lisp?
 >Given the words above, I wonder why the question is this way around :)
The thing that struck me as being really cool about Lisp is the whole  
macro and the "code is data" idea. In the book Practical Common Lisp 
they show how data could be expressed as lists, which you could then 
easily serialise and deserialise to/from a file. How cool is that?! Plus 
you can use macros to extend the language.

Alas, pulling against this seems to be a number of minuses. The 
commercial Lisp implementations may be good, but what wannabe hacker is 
going to fork out the cash for those babies? The free ones that work on 
Windows are GPL, which means that although somebody might be tempted to 
use them for personal projects, he is not going to sell the idea to his 
boss that stuff should be developed in Lisp. Plus there are the 
fragmentation issues. I managed to get wxCL (wxWidgets for Common Lisp) 
to install and run on CLISP. I figured that ODBC connectivity should be 
next on the list, and found that I needed defsystem to make it run. So 
then I have to track down defsystem, get that installed, etc. etc.. It 
reminds me of one of those adventure games from my ZX81 days. In order 
to catch the bird you need the cage and the seed, but oh dear, you're 
carrying the rod which scares the bird, and so on. It's horribly 
complicated. Well, the following page goes into far greater detail than 
I ever could:
I daren't post this message on comp.lang.lisp you understand, as that 
would just be inviting Electric Death, as Douglas Adamas might say.

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