[Haskell-cafe] New slogan for haskell.org
Albert Y. C. Lai
trebla at vex.net
Fri Oct 5 03:32:41 EDT 2007
Don Stewart wrote:
> It was raised at CUFP today that while Python has:
> Python is a dynamic object-oriented programming language that can be
> used for many kinds of software development. It offers strong
> support for integration with other languages and tools, comes with
> extensive standard libraries, and can be learned in a few days. Many
> Python programmers report substantial productivity gains and feel
> the language encourages the development of higher quality, more
> maintainable code.
> With the links from the start about using Python for various purposes,
> along with reassuring text about licenses and so on.
> Note its all about how it can help you.
Many people invent and promote new programming languages because it is
thought that they will improve productivity, reliability,
maintainability, extensibility, evolvability, readability, writability,
XXXivity, YYYbility, ...
Call me a skeptic, cynical, ivory-tower, completely detached,
you-need-to-get-out-more academic, but since almost every programming
language inventor gets to make such claims, or at least state such aims,
they are bordering on becoming meaningless commercial buzzwords, like
every company says and lies about "customers are number one!" Even if
the claims are true, they are non-sequiturs because they're what
programming languages are supposed to be! (Executability is very
important too; are you going to emphasize it?) And are the claims ever
true? I'm sure they're noble aims, but if anyone claims any of them is
achieved, such as the Python statement claims productivity gains, I'll
ask the Greg Wilson question: where is your data? And I'll add my own:
do you just poll "feelings" or do you actually measure objective
Granted, perhaps your perspective is, if every other company is shouting
"customers are number one", then ours must too, and who actually lives
up to it is the non-sequitur here. You're in the buzzword war, not the
evidence war. OK, then make sure you include executability, as the
Python guys in their infinite wisdom have forgotten that one. You'll
trump them on that point, ha!
My point is, you want to say, "this language is about you". OK, that
sounds right about "customers are number one", and we pretty know what
that's about. If it's supposed to be false anyway, fine, you're saying
it for a reason, so just copy every other company's silly buzzwords and
throw in more silly buzzwords that even other companies have forgotten
about. And if it's supposed to be true, do you have proof?
My academic, rational, technical-merit perspective is, we state Haskell
for what it is. We state it has FFI. We state we have QuickCheck. We
state it is purely functional, non-strict, monadic. If we suspect
readers don't know those words, use some other words. Let the readers
decide what these mean to their software engineering objectives. We
don't claim software engineering objectives for them; we don't have data
to prove any. The moment we refrain from unproved claims, we stand out
from the snake oil salespeople. The moment we cut that "it's about you"
crap, the moment we go back to the basics and say "this is our offer,
take your time to consider it", that's when the whole business is truly
about the readers.
To exemplify, I now analyze the Python statement under my glass:
"dynamic object-oriented": Good, informative, I know those words and I
am the one to decide its implications to me.
"can be used for many kinds of software development": Informationless.
Which major programming language can't be? It's OK to list, instead, in
a subsequent paragraph a roster of the many kinds allured to.
"strong integration", "extensive libraries": Good, these are
distinguishing technical offers, I want to know them.
"can be learned in a few days": Though this one isn't backed by studies,
I won't call it bluff. This one is not a big deal. Unfortunately,
Haskell is unlikely to be learned in a few days. Fortunately, Haskell is
likely to revolutionize minds in a few days.
"Many Python programmers report substantial ...": Substantial claim it
is. Snake oil, unless proved otherwise.
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