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Scheme is really quite cool

Posted by: Anonymous [ip:] on April 07, 2008 12:07 AM
I was introduced to LISP in the early 80's. I like to think of Scheme like this: it is the smallest complete computer language. The text of a LISP program is merely a dump of its structure, LISP the language has no syntax of its own. Perhaps you are not aware that Javascript is really LISP; it has all the same functional features, but it has a syntax that looks like Java or C.

The horribly difficult to read LISP code most of you refer to was written by LISP developers who do not understand the power of the LISP macro system's abilty to help developers create readable and maintainable code.

If your eyes are not used to looking at LISP notation, LISP programs can be easliy converted to a C-like syntax, and then they will look just like the C or Java or Perl programs that you are used to. Macros in LISP are similar to the preprocessor functioonality in C and C++, but they are much more powerful because they operate at a semantic level instead of a textual level.

What many people miss out on with LISP development is the power of the interpreted environment. It's really ideal for prototyping and GUI development because it well supports the iterative development style. Changes to code are implemented immediately with no recompiling or restarting. emacs has excellent LISP integration making development even more of a joy.

I have worked worked on a successful Scheme software system, it was a pleasure to work on. We used SWIG to generate glue for the various libraries we needed to call. Most applications spend over 90% of their CPU cycles in library calls so the efficiency of the interpreted environment is not really a factor.

Please do not criticize that about which you know little.


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