[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]
My wording on this point is not good:
2. ANSI recognizes X3J13 as the technical working group for Lisp in
the US. Therefore, an IEEE effort would have no standing or voice in
any ISO work relating to Lisp, which is regarded as including dialects
such as Scheme.
Let me try again.
The charter for X3J13 specifically talks about Common Lisp. I will explain
below why that phrasing is used and how well the strategy behind that
phrasing is working.
ISO has established a Working Group for ISO Lisp. I will explain below why that
phrasing is used and how well the strategy behind that phrasing is working.
ISO has asked the US to participate in the ISO Lisp work, which means ANSI
was asked. ANSI in turn asked X3J13 whether it would participate - because
such participation was mentioned in the X3J13 charter - and X3J13 said it
would. Therefore all representatives to the ISO Lisp Working Group must be
The reason X3J13 talks about Common Lisp is because the members of X3J13
do not want to see a Lisp standard - they want to see Lisp be able to
continue to grow without the fetters of standardization. In particular,
they do not want to hamper the Scheme efforts. The pressure in the US that
drives X3J13 is to standardize Common Lisp, and the strategy is to work on
a specific dialect of Lisp to avoid the issue of standardizing Lisp as a
whole. In particular, X3J13 wanted to block an ISO standard Lisp. Hence
one could conclude that Scheme is free to do what it wants.
The reason ISO talks about Lisp is because the European community does not
like Common Lisp and wants to see the right thing become a standard.
Unfortunately from how things have turned out, they want to see a
Scheme-like dialect standardized. Therefore they have slanted things to
include Scheme as far as ISO is concerned, and thus ANSI will probably
view X3J13 as necessarily encompassing the Scheme community.
The history is that the ISO effort started in response to activities
towards starting X3J13. X3J13 was not actually formed when the ISO efforts
started, so X3J13 tried to calm down the ISO effort by writing ``Common
Lisp'' into its charter. The funny (or sad) situation is that each of the
groups behind the ISO effort and the X3J13 effort will point to the other
group as the reason they started their own standardization efforts!
However, the ISO effort went ahead, and the linkage at ANSI between
ISO Lisp and ANSI Common Lisp was made.
Many observers (Mathis and myself included) believe that if ANSI is
asked to recognize Scheme as a different language from Common Lisp, they
will not do so, but ask that X3J13 broaden its charter.
ISO will talk only to ANSI about Lisp, so an IEEE Scheme effort will not
have an official influence on the ISO work, and therefore X3J13 is
probably the only vehicle for ISO-level Scheme work.
Now, the situation has gotten a lot more complicated than what I just
painted. The situation I painted is that the US through X3J13 wants to
limit standardization to Common Lisp and specifically under that name.
The delegation to ISO from the US has as the first item on its agenda a
request to limit the scope of the ISO effort and to try to change the name
of the ISO effort from ISO Lisp to something else, possibly ISO Common
Lisp. However, I fear that the seeds have been planted at ISO - as they
were accidentally at ANSI - in such a way that Common Lisp is not
distinguishable from Lisp, and that the attempted change will not work
(due to ISO reluctance).
Meanwhile, a group of Europeans who had previously argued against Common Lisp
have now concluded that the pressing issue is time-to-draft, and that therefore
a cleaned-up Common Lisp is the only possibility, due to manufacturer pressure.
So we might face the situation of the European delegation asking that ISO
Lisp be Common Lisp while ISO refuses to change the charter for the
working group. If this situation were to prevail, we would have ISO Lisp
be Common Lisp. To prevent that, my response (as head of the US
delegation) would be to state the US position as being against Common Lisp
as ISO Lisp, and to propose a family of Lisp dialects, starting with an
ISO Common Lisp dialect and followed by a better standard for ISO Lisp
later. In this case, the Scheme community would have to be brought in -
in my opinion - and that can only happen through X3J13.
The best situation would be for ANSI to have ANSI Common Lisp and for
there not to be an ISO standard, but because the wheels are turning at
ISO, this cannot happen. The next best thing is there to be an ISO Common
Lisp, leaving open indefinitely the possibility of an ISO Lisp. If there
must be an ISO Lisp on the horizon, I believe there ought to be an ANSI
Common Lisp right away and a re-designed ISO Lisp in some years.
There is a fair amount of sympathy for an immediate ANSI Common Lisp
followed by a re-designed Lisp in some years among the X3J13 group. If this
were to come to pass, interaction with the Scheme community is imperative.
Therefore there is ample opportunity for there to be an ISO Lisp that is
not Common Lisp, and I believe the community of people who truly wish ISO Lisp
to be Common Lisp is small.
I hope this clarifies as best as can be done the rather bizarre Lisp
standardization situation. The first ISO Lisp meeting is February 24 or so
in Paris, and we ought to know more about things when we return. As you
may know, I asked Will Clinger to join me in hopes of making something
good of the situation, so you will get his report.