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

Allen Wirfs-Brock allen at
Fri Jun 19 18:12:35 UTC 2015

On Jun 19, 2015, at 10:29 AM, Alex Russell wrote:

> I do not share Mark's view. Contra his sentiment, I was using the "small" version of JS for many years and noted that most non-trivial uses required finding or building a library. That choice of library (which exist to fill in platform and language deficiencies) leads to a a split in common use that's just as pernicious as "choosing a subset". 
> Writing JS in the large continues to need more help.

I agree with parts of both Mark's and Alex's positions.

It isn't clear that any "small" language has ever seen the sort of industry dominance that languages like C/C++ achieved.   I'd even argue that the an unwilling (or inability) to grow  was one of the reasons that (Pascal and Smalltalk) both sputtered out after some initial success. Pragmatic growth is probably essential for achieving and maintaining broad adoption.

On the other hand, curation of language growth is really important.  Not every good idea can be fit into a language and not evert seemingly valuable features has long term utility or durability.

ES needs to evolve more rapidly than once every 5-15 years.  The yearly update plan is good, but that doesn't mean we should be rushing proposals (particularly complex ones) through the process in order to catch the next yearly release. Bake time is good.  There are numerous ES6 features that are much better because their design had a chance to evolve over a a two or three year period.

This isn't a contest to see who can or can't get their favorite feature into the language. Nobody should take it personally if their good idea doesn't make it. I've probably had dozens of of really good ;-) ideas for making ES better that haven't made it into the language. 


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