A Lisp Reality Check

21 Aug 2006

If you’re a Lisper, you dealt with all this crap years ago, and now you’re committed. If you’re not a Lisper, then you’re not very likely to become one any time soon. In fact your probability of learning Lisp is decreasing over time, as other languages continue to close the gap in the Lispy areas, and simultaneously increase their lead in non-Lispy areas where Lisp is making little (if any) progress.

That’s a quote from this article by Steve Yegge. It reassures me that I’m not insane whenever I get frustrated attempting to get back from a lovely toy Scheme program I’ve written, modeling state machines or whatever, back into someplace resembling the real world.

One peeve of mine that he didn’t mention: the tendency to pronounce the cobbled-together mess of Emacs, a command-line Lisp, SLIME, and a number of somewhat ad-hoc libraries a perfect, rational, and final solution, because it can be made to work. In other words, if you want to use Lisp, you’ve also got to swallow the Emacs pill too. Yeah, it’s really big, but I did it, the advocates say, and it’s been good for me. Get a big glass of water ready. (I feel a rant on the subject of Emacs coming on, but I’ll smother it for now).

The followup comments are interesting to read as well, most of them.

An aside: I can’t quite disagree or agree with him on CLOS itself, having little to no experience with it; however, Dylan’s implementation of objects is CLOS-like, and I really, really like it (and have used it for some non-toy programs).

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