[Haskell] Re: [Haskell-cafe] Haskell versus Lisp

Tomasz Zielonka tomasz.zielonka at gmail.com
Fri Sep 16 17:33:46 EDT 2005

On Fri, Sep 16, 2005 at 05:40:04PM +0100, Glynn Clements wrote:
> Every other language (including Haskell) tends to have the problem
> that eventually you will encounter a situation where the language's
> own worldview gets in the way.

Are you sure that lisp's worldview never gets in the way?

> Or, to put it another way: if Haskell is so flexible, why do we need
> Template Haskell?

It's nice to have Template Haskell, but saying that we need it is a bit
of an overstatement. In the GHC Survey 2005 only 9% of people said it's
essential. Well, OK, I was one of them, but I think you know what I

> I can't imagine a "Template Lisp"; it would just be Lisp.

The power of lisp macros is often overrated. I remember a long
discussion crossposted on comp.lang.lisp an comp.lang.functional. The
lisp advocates gave examples for how macros allow to do things
supposedly unavailable in other languages. Surprisingly, most of these
things were equally easy to do with higher-order functions and closures
in Haskell.

I am sure that lisp gurus can achieve great things with macros, but I'm
not sure they are the best tool for software engineering problems.
I think they can make the code more difficult to understand, make the
semantics less uniform (despite the uniform syntax), and can become an
abused ugly hack.

Don't get me wrong - I still think that lisp is one of the best
programming languages around and from time to time I am trying to learn
a bit of it.  One of the things that puts me off is the attitude of its
community - it seems to be very close minded.

Best regards

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