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Santanu Chakrabarti09:02:23

@hiskennyness This question was there inside my mind for long, your post just encouraged me to put it here. Any idea why Lisp/Common Lisp didn't get used much in commercial software development? I like Lisp with its many dialects and find it very usable even in developing commercial grade software. Complexity-wise also both Java and Lisp are not very much different, at least that I feel with my limited knowledge. All inputs are welcome.


It used to. But it hitched its cart to snake oil, and when they ran out of excuses and the funding dried up, so did the commercial use. Reading up on the "AI Winter" may be enlightening, and also a good lesson for tech platforms to consider as they decide which domains to push for in their search for growth. Clojure is, I believe, a lot better equipped to survive in that regard. Haskell and Rust deeply worry me at the moment.

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What about Haskell and Rusy worry you?


Haskell's longevity continues to surprise me, given its "avoid success at all costs" reputation. When I first learned Haskell, I expected it to take over the world because it was so obviously better than any mainstream programming language... but I quickly came to realize that languages do not succeed because they are "good", they succeed because they are either "easy" or "heavily marketed".

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> What about Haskell and Rusy worry you? the number of job listings I see in those languages that involve glorified ponzi schemes, but with less structured business plans


I think Rust might survive it, but largely because it seems to be becoming a house language at Amazon more than anything. Haskell ... I think Steven Diehl is right to be concerned.


Is Haskell a favorite of the crypto crowd? I didn't know that (and while Steven rails against the whole crypto thing -- rightly so, IMO -- I didn't actually see anything in his posts tying Haskell to that: his "Elephant" post suggests the connection but doesn't provide any evidence, and doesn't mention Haskell beyond that first, hand-wavy paragraph).


> languages do not succeed because they are "good", they succeed because they are either "easy" or "heavily marketed". > How do you back this up @U04V70XH6? I tend to agree but when I try to put the idea into words something feels off


The two languages that come to mind that back @U04V70XH6’s statement up are C and Java. C was, by comparison to other languages (remember that assembly was still in heavy use in the early 1970's), easy. Java--well, Sun Microsystems marketed the hell out of that language in the mid-late 1990's. They were trying to get Java into everything, whether it needed to be there or not.

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Don't forget Oracle. Sun pushed yes, but Oracle's existing leverage in corporate markets has been huge.


I think education is worth considering too: Oracle and Microsoft both market their programming products heavily to schools, to the degree that it's not unheard of to see schools where one or the other has a near monopoly on instruction. My college back around 2010 was like 100% Microsoft products, and Oracle has marketed so heavily in Finland that the vast majority of schools teach their CS and IT graduates nothing but Java. Companies in turn wanna save labor cost, and so they want to hire baby grads fresh out of school who'll work for less, and that means hiring whatever the schools are producing: more Java/.NET coders

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Good point @U13N2SPMZ. I’ve been wondering if the resurgence in strongly typed languages can be attributed to the fact that so many schools are teaching languages like Java and C# almost exclusively. It seems like up until about 10-12 years ago, dynamic languages were increasing in popularity (JS, Python, etc…) and all of a sudden everybody wanted static typing. Dart is a great example. It was originally very dynamic but the designers said that early on, all they heard from users was that they wanted it to be statically typed so that’s what they did.


Speaking of Dart; I look at it, Swift, and Kotlin and ask myself, “Why do we have three different names for what amounts to the same language syntactically?” 😄


@UEQPKG7HQ Yeah, what @UMJED2JHY said, TBH. And I'd add JS as a weird mixture of "easy" (to learn in the early days) and "marketing" in terms of Netscape and, over time, every browser manufacturer. I think I might also put PHP and Python into the "easy" category in terms of easy enough for non-programmers to get started with. And going further back, BASIC.

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Of course, being "easy" and "marketed" doesn't guarantee popularity -- see ColdFusion, for example, but that was most likely held back by being a not-free language (until the '00s when at least three FOSS implementations appeared, one of which has captured a lot of the price-sensitive CFML market).


@santanu.chakrabarti Easy. Engineering is not about technology. Engineering is social. What is everybody else using? In the 60's, what was IBM pushing? Then what was Oracle throwing money into? ReactJS was awful; who was backing it? (But Vue is eating its lunch, it sucks so bad.) OTOH, look what Linux did. Hardware manufacturers with their proprietary OSes, and the languages they chose to ship, went like dinosaurs. Little guys like Python and Perl were the people's choice. Someone created Rails and got oddball Ruby out of obscurity. What is everybody else using? We are, in the end, 🐑 . Smart approach if we want to be safe.

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Santanu Chakrabarti12:02:54

yup we don't want to get out of our perceived comfort zone, even if that means very little or no risk. In India IT job market boomed riding on the shoulder of Y2K problem and till it faced a major set back due to recession in US market in 2008 most people never thought of turning their face to the software need of India as an economic entity. Most people aspired for onsite (meaning US) job assignment so that they can become Green Card holder or earn a huge fortune to ensure a lavish life back in India. Even the organizations promoted such mentality. No one generally bothered to look around to build an understanding of the technology "landscape". I had and still have the habit of trying my hands here and there to understand what other opportunities I am given by the technology, but for that matter my colleagues and seniors used to think about me as not having enough focus on my career and job. And yes I am not that successful in my software profession. To be frank I felt restricted. And then suddenly near about 2014 here came the wave of "innovation" and everybody seems to jump to become an "innovator", as if innovation is just an everyday thing. They swear by "thinking out of the box". All this make me laugh inside me and at the same time make me feel distraughted.

Santanu Chakrabarti15:02:52

@hiskennyness I just found it and hoped you might be interested to know about it. "Recently, the list was posted on HN, more people got to know it (look, this list is fan-cooked and we add companies when we learn about one, often by chance, don’t assume it’s anything “official” or exhaustive), and Alex Nygren informed us that his company uses Common Lisp in production:" Web site is:


Cool! But they have me "disappeared as of 2018". Hey, I am like Lisp, no deader than usual! 🧟

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What a cold, sad, and horrible world you describe here, @hiskennyness. The fact that it's all true only makes it worse!


I know, @U3Y18N0UC! sob Remember Spock forever rolling his eyes at illogical, emotion-driven humans? That officership must have been Hell for him!! And we cold, calculating,optimal-tool selecting chimpanzees forever getting fired for not using IBM feel his pain! 🐒 Where was I?

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