[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

Re: Scheme pre-R6RS Workshop at ICFP - What is the Point?

From: Alan Bawden <Alan@lcs.mit.edu>
Subject: Re: Scheme pre-R6RS Workshop at ICFP - What is the Point?
Date: Wed, 27 May 1998 11:02:51 -0400

> My question was: Is Scheme interested in addressing the problems of
> people like Sperber and Bawden, who try to use Scheme for serious
> programming?  There are those who would answer "No".  I'd like us to
> finally decide the question.

I don't think it is reasonably to expect that such a question can be
decided. Who exactly are the people who are summarily referred to as
"Scheme" here?  Those whose names appear on the Scheme report?  Those
on this list? Those who are trying to _use_ the language?  There is no
easy answer to this, so the question must be un-asked. MU.

To me, it is unbelievable how quickly Richard's well-meant request has
deteriorated into political bickering.  All he wants is that people
get a chance to sit together and talk about _design_ (as opposed to
politics).  Maybe he should have avoided the term "R6RS", but that's
besides the point.  He doesn't expect to walk out of the meeting with
the new draft for R6RS in his hands.

We will only know what "direction" Scheme can go in if we have a rough
idea of what people want to do with it and what features they expect.
Of course, this does not mean that every idea voiced at such a meeting
will actually make it into an "official" Scheme standard.  But it
would be good to have a survey that encompasses more than just the
"usual suspects" (whose points of view are well-known anyway).

People suggest to add "features" because they feel the existing ones
are not adequate for what they are trying to do.  Knowing what
features people want may help us figure out what's wrong with the
current feature set.  If there is nothing wrong with it, then it may
serve as a reminder that we have to do a better job in explaining how
people's needs can be met by existing features.  Otherwise, if we find
that, indeed, there are things left to be desired, then we must think
about fixing the problems.  This does NOT mean that every suggested
missing feature shoud be added.  In fact, we should probably instead
try to "remove the weaknesses and restrictions that made those
features appear necessary".  (I must have read that sentence
somewhere... :-)

In any case, it will be good to get a sample of who is "out there",
what they want, and why they want it.  That's all.  I understand
Richards request as an attempt to do exactly that.

Perhaps, to avoid further political confrontation, it would be best if
those who like to further develop the language simply disassociated
themselves from the name "Scheme".  This way no-one gets offended, and
we can all just move on.
(Of course, some may say that this has already happened a long time ago...)