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Industrial-strength Lisp?

At the end of this message, I've reproduced a portion of an interchange
taking place on the mailing list scheme@mc.lcs.mit.edu.  The topic is a 
somewhat broad argument centered around clarity of some publicly-available
code, and in general I can't get exicted about such issues (one man's
clarity and elegance is another man's poison).

However, I find it verrry interesting that this publicly-available Scheme
implementation has grown in size to rival Common Lisp.  At least some of
the original fathers of Scheme recognize that it is a dialect of Lisp
not all that different from Common Lisp; their attraction to it was that 
it was succinctly defined, and not ossified by the needs of productization,
so it was a choice vehicle for programming language research (indeed, this 
justification was part of Lisp's glory for over 20 years).

But I have often claimed that as soon as you develop a language system 
(like Lisp, Prolog, or Smalltalk) to the point of really being "industrial
quality", it will have grown so cancerously as to have lost virtually all 
its original pristine beauty (** but see footnote below).   Conventional 
languages like C/FORTRAN/ADA/PASCAL/MODULA don't seem to have this property 
because, I think, there is generally an "off line" approach to programming 
in them; in fact, the correlate of an "Industrial Strength" Common Lisp is 
more likely C+Unix(tm) rather than just C alone.  ZetaLisp exhibits this 
operating-system character much more so than Common Lisp (one of whose 
goals was to be a portable language).

-- JonL --


Date: Wed, 4 May 88 11:12:23 MDT
From: shebs%defun@cs.utah.edu (Stanley T. Shebs)
To: cph@zurich.ai.mit.edu
Cc: scheme@mc.lcs.mit.edu
In-Reply-To: Chris Hanson's message of Wed, 4 May 88 03:47:10 edt <8805040747.AA21368@kleph>
Subject: Re: Extending the address space of MIT Cscheme (long reply)

. . . 

There are probably others, I haven't looked at every single one of the
120+ files and 50K+ lines of the C code...

>    * Have you seen a lisp of comparable (or greater) functionality
>    that is significantly better in either respect?  Please name it,
>    and explain why.

In the absence of a manual describing the "functionality" of CScheme,
it's impossible to compare it on that basis.  I hope there's lots of
functionality, CScheme is larger than commercial Common Lisps (which is
amusing considering how Schemers abuse Common Lisp for its "bloat").
Spice Lisp/CMU Common Lisp has its flaws, but it's better overall (for
one thing, it's smaller!).  T/Orbit has better structure and style, but
its documentation is too scanty to recommend.  I would say that PSL/PCLS
is cleaner, but I am biased!

. . . 


** [Footnote]:  Smalltalk-80 *might* be excepted from this criticism even
   though it is rather large (some folks are aghast at the complexity of
   the initial class structure).  The early "pristine" versions were 
   probably vintage circa 72, but the world at large only really saw 
   it after the publication of the Smalltalk books (vintage 80).