Re: [isml] Making HAL Your Pal (fwd)

From: Matthew Gingell (
Date: Fri Apr 20 2001 - 12:34:57 MDT

Samantha Atkins writes:

> The idea of "domdules" that contain semantic and usage information about
> modules is a good one. The tricky part is having good semantic language
> conventions that are computable. That itself is not a small research
> project.
> - samantha

  Samantha is asking the exactly the right questions, and I haven't yet
  seen any followup. Succinctly, what does Flare do that necessitates
  inventing a completely new wheel?

  Attaching user supplied meta data to language constructs is trivial
  and not a novel idea - though long term exposure to C++ damages one's
  brain enough it may seem otherwise. The non-trivial part is inventing
  a useful mark up language: What is it you want to say about a piece
  of code it doesn't already say about itself? How expressive is your
  language going to be, and where does it fall between javadoc and
  'here's some code you can run, it tells you something about some
  other code.' Forget about implementation and think about what you're
  trying to accomplish.

  Take a look at the literate programming faq. Skim a decent Lisp text
  and write some Prolog or Haskell or something else to break out of
  the code as dead text / compilation is conversion to noise model and
  get your mind some fresh air. Lisp blew the top of my head off the
  first time I got into it - in C++ if you want a general 'foreach'
  construct you duct tape some hideous template / iterator mess from a
  language without the type system to properly support it. In Lisp you
  write a trivial function of a function.

  If you had years and a very bright team with serious language design
  background, you might do better than something you could download
  today. I don't think though you appreciate what a enormous task
  simply specifying a non-toy language would be or what it would take
  to improve on the state of the art.


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