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comments on recent remarks
Hal concisely summarized the reasons I feel a standard is probably desirable.
... serious concerns have been raised about (1) some other group
standardizing something called "Scheme" (2) Scheme getting overshadowed by
Common Lisp (3) Scheme not being viewed as a "real language". So I think
it is worthwhile to see if we can go the standards route without blowing
I expect that as Scheme becomes more widely used, there will be
increasing pressure to standardize it. And I am sure that as time
goes on, it will be increasingly difficult to standardize it in "the
My original attempt at making the later point was criticized, with some
justification, for sounding elitist. That was never my intent.
Mitch clarified it nicely:
As Scheme matures and its user community grows, it is no longer
controlled by a group of 2 or 5 or 18 or 31. We (meaning the members
of any of these sets) can no longer control or direct the growth of
the language; such direction must be shared with other as yet unknown
persons or institutions which may or may not share the intellectual
goals of the original group.
"Blowing it" means setting up a situation where people feel that they
have to agree about large chunks of Scheme before they can work on
Scheme. That turns Scheme design into a political process rather than
an intellectual one. It also, unfortunately, is often the express
purpose of creating a standard.
You don't need a large standardized chunk of a language to do
teaching and research, which are still the main applications of
Scheme. These applications generally do not require a large
language, and because portability is not essential it need not be
completely standard. Political pressures of this sort become intense
when the language is being used for large commercial applications,
for which a significantly larger standardized chunk is often needed.
Part of my concern is that in a few years industrial applications of
Scheme will become important and standardization will then become
more political. Thus I think it will be possible for us to avoid
blowing it in this way if we proceed now, and much more difficult if
we delay several years.
In general I would like to see a VERY conservative and VERY
I agree completely. I also like Hal's "manifesto".
Subject: Standardization (A conservative approach)
My view is that informal Scheme design meetings, such as the Scheme
workshop of June 1987, are the places to talk about evolutionary changes
Are those meetings going to be replaced by formal
I sincerely hope not.
or are the standards meetings going to only codify
the time tested ideas that originated in workshops and other
Yes, that is the proper role of standardization (with emphasis on
From: Hal Abelson <email@example.com>
Subject: call for standardization meeting
My bias is that if we do decide to go ahead with a standard, then the
standard itself should be essentially identical to the next version of
R*S. (But I would like to hear from people who have contrary
I could live with this if the standards organizations would tolerate
it (which is questionable), but I'd rather give the working group
(and the report group) somewhat more scope. This scope should not be
license to add things to the language, but rather to change style and
perhaps remove doubtful features until we have had more confident of
them. For example, I'm glad the Reports include a formal semantics,
but its appropriateness for a standard is debatable; and I'd rather
we didn't allow improper formal parameter lists until Dybvig and
Heeb's optional argument proposal is seriously considered.