[Haskell-cafe] Re: Is www.haskell.org down?

Ketil Malde ketil at malde.org
Thu Aug 14 14:52:06 EDT 2008

Don Stewart <dons at galois.com> writes:

> By the way, for those wondering why Jon Harrop would say such an unusual
> thing on the Haskell list, have a look at his contributions over on the
> OCaml list,
>     http://article.gmane.org/gmane.comp.lang.caml.general/43430

Well, to be perfectly honest:

| > What are the advantages/disadvantages when comparing OCaml to Haskell?
| Techically, predictable performance, high performance on x64, tools like 
| camlp4 and language features including records, functors, polymorphic 
| variants and structurally-typed objects are probably the main advantages of 
| OCaml over Haskell.

I think we can match language features with classes, concurrency,
GADTs, STM, and so on.  Predictable performance is a point, especially
memory-wise. At least, I sometimes get surprises when a usage pattern
causes too much or too little laziness.  GHC uses a *lot* of memory in
general, and in particular on 64 bits.

I belive OCaml has a simpler semantics, and thus it is easier to
optimize performance, especially for a beginner.  Decent programmers
get decent performance with Haskell, see e.g. the language shootout.

| Non-technically, OCaml has more well-tested libraries, more practical books 
| (e.g. my own), more high-profile open source projects (e.g. FFTW has millions 
| of users)

I'm not so sure about the library thing, it seems that Haskell has a
bigger community, and while some libraries are less maintained than
one would wish, some are pretty solid.  Clearly, OCaml has been used
in some serious settings, although I don't see why the number of users
of one particular application should be significant to me.

| There are far more practically-minded people in the OCaml community
| and that is reflected in the much larger number of commercial
| products that use OCaml.

This almost reads as damning with faint praise.  Do we have the 
educated, smart people, and a larger number of open source products?

| Tangentially, OCaml has a successful relative in F# whereas
| Haskell's close relatives are extinct.

Or you could say that OCaml is one member of a family of languages,
each slightly different, while Haskell managed to unify the
ecosystem and community around a single standard.  It would bear
pointing out that just about every new, cool feature in emerging
languages seem to come from Haskell. 

| nobody has ever done anything significant using Haskell

He is entitled to his opinion of what is significant or not, just as I
am entitled to my opinion of his opinion.

If I haven't seen further, it is by standing in the footprints of giants

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