Aiming for Mainstream

Over on defmacro today, a new article appeared: defmacro – Why Exotic Languages Are Not Mainstream in which the author laments that while there appear to be various choices to use Haskell on Windows, it turns out that all of them are, in some way, not ready for prime time… or even for effective hobbiest use.

I’ve noticed this myself, in my last few forays in to esoteric languages: the illusion of plenty of choices, runs in the the reality of no good choices.  This is not a universal problem; I’ve had great results with Ruby, Python, and Lua, all of which are to some extent esoteric.  The thing that those languages have in common is that there is at least one (and generally, only one) robust, production grade implementation with a community actively supporting it.

If you want to see your favorite language gain acceptance, spend your time creating / maintaining / vigorously supporting a production-ready implementation.

Sea change in Web vs. Desktop Development

In the late 1990s, I rushed in to web-app development with a million other developers, following the demand. At the time I accepted that it took more work to get a web app working than a desktop app, using the tools of the era.

But looking at Ruby / Rails and TurboGears:

It strikes me that it is now *less work and less code* to get the functionality shown here working in a web app w/AJAX, than it would be to get it working in a rich client with Swing or in a multi-tier application in Delphi. The idea above that desktop client apps are less work than web apps, is no longer true. We are now paying a penalty when we choose to create non-web-apps.