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More comments, from Tony Hoare and Joachim Durchholz.


From Tony Hoare

Dear Phil,

Thanks for the note. I'm afraid I can't get to Edinburgh on April 6th.
But I hope your discussions go well.

I would recommend that you concentrate initially on a clear definition
of the purely scientific, possibly long-term, challenges of expressing
web applications in a transparent functional style. As a result, even
if you never get as popular in the short term as python (let alone
Visual Basic, with its four million programmers), your project will
represent a significant step forward in our understanding of the
principles of programming and programming language design.

Your long list of existing languages is essential as a summary of
sources of experimental data for evaluating and evolving any emerging
language and implementation by application to realistic examples; I
think this is your intention. Otherwise your project may just
degenerate into an attempt to throw everything into one unholy stew.
Leave that kind of cookery to the standardisation bodies who made the
mess: the scientific method has no particular contribution to make to
clearing it up.

My last two paragraphs have described two extremes. Most people engaged
in your project will take a position somewhere between them. Perhaps
no-one would or should embrace solely the scientific ideals. A most
fruitful outcome of your meeting would be to define a framework within
which scientists can collaborate in working towards a long-term goal,
while competing in achievement of shorter term milestones.

Now let me add my own bit of gristle to the stew. A modern language for
Web Services should surely incorporate the concept of a long-running
transaction, as in languages such as BPEL or Microsoft's XLANG.

Please circulate this note if you think it will contribute.




From Joachim Durchholz

Dear all,

as the response to the above message in the comp.lang.functional newsgroup has shown, there's an immense interest in this project.

The announcement also sparked a rather extensive discussion on the features that such a language should (or should not) have. However, the discussion suffered from the typical newsgroup syndrome: no consensus, threads dropping off into silence, etc.

Since I know that WikiWiki webs have a better track record in this regard, I have set up one at


(For those who don't know what a WikiWiki web is: it's a web site where anybody can edit the pages. Since the pages are versioned, it's easy to revert accidentally or maliciously defaced pages to the last known good state.)

I have already added some of my personal pet peeves, but I sincerely hope that others will contribute as well, with additional proposals or critiques.




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