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Re: Cool and Useful LISP for the .emacs file


From: Kin Cho
Subject: Re: Cool and Useful LISP for the .emacs file
Date: 07 Nov 2003 19:23:19 -0800
User-agent: Gnus/5.09 (Gnus v5.9.0) Emacs/21.3

"Jody M. Klymak" <address@hidden> writes:

> My point was that the rut occupied by C, python, perl, etc is wide and
> shallow compared to the rather narrow and deep rut occupied by lisp.
> I'm not trying to say that lisp is a bad language, but, adapting to
> new habits takes time.  Having to jump ruts is an obstacle to those of
> us who do not choose to invest this time.
> 
> I wonder how many more developers there might be for emacs if it had a
> more accessible programming language.  And I wonder if being wedded to
> lisp will have an impact on emacs' future.  Certainly, for me, it
> makes casual dilettante hacking for my own uses difficult, whereas I
> can usually muddle by in a piece of perl code.  


> My point was that the rut occupied by C, python, perl, etc is wide and
> shallow compared to the rather narrow and deep rut occupied by lisp.
> I'm not trying to say that lisp is a bad language, but, adapting to
> new habits takes time.  Having to jump ruts is an obstacle to those of
> us who do not choose to invest this time.
> 
> I wonder how many more developers there might be for emacs if it had a
> more accessible programming language.  And I wonder if being wedded to
> lisp will have an impact on emacs' future.  Certainly, for me, it
> makes casual dilettante hacking for my own uses difficult, whereas I
> can usually muddle by in a piece of perl code.  

I used to carry around a collection of shell, sed, awk, and perl
scripts to do various text/file/directory processing, as well as
doing cvs/rcs stuff, running compilation and gdb etc...  Now I do
(almost) all these things in elisp.

Except for the limitation of 28 bit integers (which is about the
only time I need to drop to perl), elisp is much more powerful
and elegant.

Some of the things I wrote elisp to do include: run special
compilation commands depending on project directory, mount
loopback filesystem devices within dired, parse tcpdump output,
etc...

In short, elisp makes it possible for me to create my very own
(text-based) IDE.

> But perhaps your sentiments are correct - maybe the litmus test of
> having to learn lisp keeps out the riff-raff and leaves emacs to be
> developed by the dedicated "professional programmers."  Maybe that is
> why it has remained so successful and the quality of what is out
> there so high.  I'm just trying to point out the point of view from a
> longtime user in the trenches.  

I suspect many excellent elisp authors aren't "professional
programmers", but smart tinkerers.

-kin



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