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Re: A Dylan implemented on Common Lisp

In article <D5345w.3xC@cogsci.ed.ac.uk> jeff@aiai.ed.ac.uk (Jeff Dalton) writes:

   Contrary to the impression created by Scott's anti-Lisp propaganda,
   Common Lisp eliminated most of the small irritations that had built
   up over the years.

It eliminated some.  Many others were kept for compatibility reasons.

I feel kind of funny being cast in the role of an anti-Lisp
propagandist, just because I believe that Common Lisp is not perfect
and that Dylan can do better in certain respects, both large and

I still use Common Lisp and like it.  In an earlier post to
comp.lang.dylan I pointed out several areas in which CL will have an
advantage over Dylan, at least for some time to come.  But after many
years of hard work trying to make Common Lisp a mainstream success, I
have given up on that goal.  I think Dylan has a better shot at
achieving this goal -- it keeps most of what is good about Lisp while
abandoning some bad ideas and a lot of excess baggage.  Many other
former Lispers share this perception.  Your mileage may vary.

Obviously Dylan incorporates a lot of ideas from Lisp -- not
surprising since most of the Dylan designers have a Lisp background.
But it is different in important ways, and we want people to evaluate
the language on its own merits -- not dismiss it because they dislike
Lisp (for valid reasons or not) and think that Dylan is just more of
the same.

   Note that Scott Fahlman was one of the designers of Common Lisp
   and had plenty of opportunities to eliminate any irritations that
   irritated him.

Not exactly true.  The over-riding concern of the people designing
Common Lisp was to come up with a design that N different groups, all
with different agendas and different existing implementations, could
agree on.  Keeping small crocks and kludges in the language was very
often the price for keeping some group or other from jumping off the
bandwagon.  I am sure that any one of the major Common Lisp designers
could have designed a more elegant and beautiful Lisp dialect, but
then it would not have been common.  The result is a language that
served an important purpose for many years (and continues to do so,
though it's fading a bit) but that not even its mother could love.
Like the camel, Common Lisp is a horse designed by committee.  Camels
do have their uses.

-- Scott

Scott E. Fahlman			Internet:  sef+@cs.cmu.edu
Principal Research Scientist		Phone:     412 268-2575
School of Computer Science              Fax:       412 268-5576
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