The Tragedy of the Common Lisp, or, Why Large Languages Explode (was: revive let blocks)

Benjamin Gruenbaum benjamingr at
Fri Jun 19 08:21:41 UTC 2015

I don't think anyone is "frightened" about removing these things. The TC
has a commitment not to "break the internet", by removing something like
`var` or `typeof` you're disabling *billions* of people who are using the
internet - it would very much literally "break the internet". Even if the
TC unanimously votes on removing 'var' - this is not something browser
vendors would do anyway.

This issue has been discussed on the list several times before and even the
modest attempt to fix `typeof null` failed when it was attempted. Here is
some discussion about it

The way forward is pretty much to avoid features like `with` for the most
part, understand older code but gradually write newer code. Any breaking
changes to the language require extensive research which will likely
conclude in not making the change (like `var`) anyway.

Note that strict mode already fixes a lot of things (quirkiness of
arguments, with, non-lexical scope, globals, etc). Classes have safe
defaults (non enumerability of properties), for... of loops typically do
the correct thing based on the new iteration protocol and so on.

On Fri, Jun 19, 2015 at 11:06 AM, Alexander Jones <alex at> wrote:

> If people are unable to internalize the whole language, then surely we
> need a way to remove cruft and idiosyncracies in it, lest the language
> stagnate beyond repair.
> Removing var, typeof, exotic objects, function declarations, IsNaN, ==,
> enumerable properties, are just a few examples of things we should not be
> frightened to talk about.
> While I don't personally see a need for the proposed let syntax, I think
> that concerns about the language growing uncontrollably should be directed
> at its apparent lack of deprecation strategy, rather than shutting down
> discussion of new ideas that might help us write better programs.
> Just my 2p.
> On Thursday, June 18, 2015, Allen Wirfs-Brock <allen at>
> wrote:
>> On Jun 18, 2015, at 12:18 PM, Andreas Rossberg wrote:
>> On 18 June 2015 at 19:26, Benjamin Gruenbaum <benjamingr at>
>> wrote:
>>> This is a mailing list comprised of people who typically have a much
>>> better understanding of the language and its corners than most (even
>>> professional) developers have (and dare I say, are interested in or care
>>> about having). With ES6 the language already got a *lot* bigger and I'd
>>> argue that it's now harder to learn the whole. The tradeoffs were
>>> worthwhile but it's definitely an issue.
>> I dare say that at this point Allen probably is the only person in the
>> world who actually fully knows and understands the complete language. I
>> won't hesitate to admit that I don't. ;)
>> And I occasionally have to go and look up details.
>> Allen
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