Over the holiday I looked at the Factor programming language, and was very impressed. It has a Lisp-like metacircular quality, and a remarkably wide set of features/libraries in spite of a very small development team and community. Unlike many other small language projects, Factor is fast, rich, and can produce shippable binaries. Its team cares about robustness, and operates a build farm for multiple platforms. If you can spare a few hours, first watch Slava’s Google Tech Talk, then download Factor and work through some tutorials.

Will Factor become popular? With a FORTH-like syntax, I suspect the answer is a firm No, the syntax is too foreign (even compared to Ruby, for example) for mainstream devleopers. But I find it fascinating nonetheless, and I will keep my eyes open for an opporunity to use it on a small, real project.

It would also make a great topic for the Lambda Lounge, a new St. Louis area user group about which I am quite excited.

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