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Rules of the game and stability
I agree with Fateman that Common Lisp should not be regarded as frozen
forever and that there can be staged versions of it as for FORTRAN. I
do think that two years is too short a cycle, however; given LISP's
history of instability, large changes to Common Lisp over only two
years will simply look like more of the same chaos. Hedrick's point
is also well taken that by 1986 a lot of people will barely have
finished implementing CL'84.
On the other hand, FORTRAN's revisions run on an 11-year cycle, which
I think is much too long. If I had to make a projection today (and I
will; here it comes, ta da), I would say that the time for a major
"version change" to Common Lisp will be ripe about 1988 or 1989, and
there is room for a "corrected edition" of CL'84 in about 1986 (I
think it will take about another year to discuss the outstanding and
new issues raised since the book was published a year ago, decide what
to do, change the book, and get the new edition published).
I agree with DLW that my category (3) should be regarded with caution,
if not suspicion; my examples were not well chosen. I am not
recommending the introduction of flavors in the near future, for
example. I was ordering the categories according to user disruption,
not implementation disruption, and of course both are important.
A small number of things like &body won't hurt, but we don't want
to introduce a hundred new functions.
Someone referred to my previous note with the word "policy". I would
like to say that I am not attempting to establish policy unilaterally.
I am trying to summarize my sense of what everyone seems to want,
colored of course by my opinions as to what I think would be best for
everyone concerned. (It might be useful for everyone to understand
that right now I am more a user of Common Lisp than an implementor!
On the other hand, part of my work here at Thinking Machines is
concerned with implementing a sideset of Common Lisp for parallel