Dev Diary 2019-09-17

The Lisp journey continues, although I’m starting to get the itch to build something silly with the newfound knowledge. For now I’m going to keep it to simple programs until I can at least finish one of the books I’m reading :-P

Today I’ll leave you with this gem from Peter Seibel’s excellent Practical Common Lisp:

DOLIST is similar to Perl’s foreach or Python’s for. Java added a similar kind of loop construct with the “enhanced” for loop in Java 1.5, as part of JSR-201. Notice what a difference macros make. A Lisp programmer who notices a common pattern in their code can write a macro to give themselves a source-level abstraction of that pattern. A Java programmer who notices the same pattern has to convince Sun that this particular abstraction is worth adding to the language. Then Sun has to publish a JSR and convene an industry-wide “expert group” to hash everything out. That process–according to Sun–takes an average of 18 months. After that, the compiler writers all have to go upgrade their compilers to support the new feature. And even once the Java programmer’s favorite compiler supports the new version of Java, they probably still can’t use the new feature until they’re allowed to break source compatibility with older versions of Java. So an annoyance that Common Lisp programmers can resolve for themselves within five minutes plagues Java programmers for years.

Doesn’t that get your blood pumping just a little bit?! The other day I was thinking of a problem at work when my mind thought ‘hey, can you ingest HashiCorp Language and represent/manipulate it as Lisp objects?’ I didn’t go down that rabbithole, but the more I learn, the less these thoughts sound crazy.