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Guidelines for the Standard
This is in reply to Christopher Fry <cfry at OZ.AI.MIT.EDU>.
First, lets not distribute the changes piecemeal, but rather as a big lump.
Maybe this should be done every September?
If the whole community is participating in the discussion of what
changes to make, they will know what is coming. We can't very well
dictate to the companies when their new releases, incorporating a
particular set of changes, is to come out. Most companies can't even
dictate that to themselves.
However, changes should be grouped into discrete clusters, corresponding
to proposals for a revision to the official standard. That way, a
company can advertise a particular version of their Lisp as
"corresponding to [proposed] ANSI/ISO Common Lisp 91" or whatever.
Portable programs that run in one "Common Lisp 91" ought to run in all
others. Some companies may want to track each change as it is decided
in some internal version, and bring a new version to market as soon as
the proposal for Common Lisp N is finalized; others may want to wait
until the standard is officially approved. Presumably Common Lisp N-1
will still be available from the same company for some transition
On the issue of wanting to change function names and argument orders for
greater internal consistency, I hear you, but I believe that few of the
vendors and major users would share your enthusiasm for such changes. I
could be wrong about this (mail pro and con is welcome), but that is
my current reading of the community. While one could in principle build
a program updater that makes such changes automatically, there is always
a lot of hassle during the transition, as some programs get updated and
others escape. One could also argue (weakly) that this language is
doomed to a certain amount of inconsistency in naming and argument
order. Any set of rules you establish for this is going to break down
in certain places.
(-: By the way, how else would you spell RPLACA? We kept this around
mostly as a historical monument, and any tampering would amount to
desecration. It does an ugly thing, so it should be ugly. Only wimps
use Setf of Car. But we artists are allowed to differ in matters of
aesthetic judgement. :-)