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Re: What is a lightweight language

Paul Graham <paulgraham@yahoo.com> writes:

> Common Lisp is basically a quadruple amputee when it comes to
> application programming.

I think this is a myth.  

[Anecdotal evidence follows] At Content Integrity our product had
several components that needed to be built.  Among them were a Java
client, a Lisp server, and some shell scripts.  The java client was
probably the hairiest because there wasn't one but rather several
variations that needed to be built, each using various combinations of
class files, etc.  We supported both Unix and Windows platform, Sun
and MS JVMs (which used non-portable extensions), standalone and
signed browser applet versions (for both IE and Netscape).

Originally a script was written to build these varying versions, but
it quickly became to complicated to maintain.  Each developer was
responsible for his own machine, so the paths to the various tools was
different on each machine.  Some of us had several versions of the

Since building the product included compiling the lisp files, it made
sense to have lisp launch the scripts to build the other components.
This worked early on.  When the scripts became unwieldy, we moved
their functionality into the Lisp.

Now I freely admit that the Lisp as it came out of the box was not up
to the task, but it really wasn't that difficult a task to add the
necessary functionality.  Once that was in place, we could perform
very complex build steps quite easily.

[End of anecdote]

I've come to the conclusion that Lisp isn't so much a quadruple
amputee as it is an untrained temp worker.  It sure doesn't know squat
to start with, but with a little effort you can extend it to be as
powerful as you need.