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[Axiom-developer] RE: Boot vs. Lisp

From: C Y
Subject: [Axiom-developer] RE: Boot vs. Lisp
Date: Mon, 31 Oct 2005 15:34:54 -0800 (PST)

--- Bill Page <address@hidden> wrote:

> Hello Mike,
> I trust all is well.
> On October 31, 2005 4:01 PM you wrote:
> > ... 
> > One wonders, however, just how complicated a build system
> > actually has to be particularly as Lisp is used elsewhere
> > in Axiom.
> I agree that using *both* Lisp and BOOT is probably more
> complicated than it needs to be. But my solution to this
> would be precisely opposite the solution proposed by Tim.
> What I would greatly prefer is to replace the Lisp in
> Axiom with BOOT, where possible. I think the only place
> where Lisp is required is in the bootstrap for the BOOT
> compiler itself. And even there, BOOT could be weened from
> it's mother Lisp and live on it's own like ML, Aldor, and
> some other languages that started out in Lisp - but I am
> not really advocating that in the short term.

In doing so we basically commit to writing our own development
environments and tools, as well as leaving a language that has an
established ANSI standard.  That may be worth it, but I'm going to be a
hard sell. ;-)

> If someone thinks Lisp is essential to Axiom then I would
> be glad to see some examples. 

Clearly it is not, any more that BOOT is - either could function as the
sole supportive language given sufficient motivation.  The question
facing us is whether the tradeoff of losing Lisp's history,
flexibility, community and existing tools/libraries/experience is worth
the better logical match between BOOT and the SPAD and Aldor languages.
 The only think I know for sure about such a question is I am
unqualified to deside.  I just hope that whatever decision is made BOOT
is not a requirement for writing a tightly bound GUI, because the
prospect of trying to reimplement McCLIM and QT bindings in BOOT is not
something I even want to think about.

> In my writing I may appear to
> be overly opinionated, but really deep down my intention is
> to be open-minded. :)

Same here - I really don't know which is the best way.  I suppose I'm a
bit dazzled by Lisp's history with CAS work and the praise it seems to
garner from those who understand it, so that should be taken into
account.  My concern is that if we go with BOOT at too low a level we
are going to find ourselves completely on our own for any tools above
the level of gcc and noweb.  That is not a comforting thought.

There might be one other way.  We have BOOT to Lisp mappings, albeit
somewhat behind the times from what I understand.  What if we go the
other way as well - make a preprocessor that parses Lisp into BOOT?  If
the mapping really is robust shouldn't it be possible to write in
EITHER lisp or BOOT and achieve results that are readable in the other


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