[plt-scheme] A crazy idea (fMUMPS)

From: Greg Woodhouse (gregory.woodhouse at sbcglobal.net)
Date: Wed Dec 28 18:02:56 EST 2005

--- Noel Welsh <noelwelsh at yahoo.com> wrote:

> Some thoughts:
> 1. Solving an open problem is better than providing a
> better solution to an already solved problem.  Or, more
> simply, don't reimplement existing technology (MUMPs). 
> Rather, implement something that MUMPs currently doesn't
> address.

I'm sure you're right. To be honest, there are things I'd rather do
than rework an existing product. Nevertheless, there are some very real
growing pains that I believe need to be addressed, and it looks like FP
could provide a good foundation for this work.
> 2. The communication standards should make language choice
> irrelevant from the user's perspective, in the same way
> HTTP has made server side language irrelevant for the web
> browseer.  This should be an advantage.

Yes, this is true. Indeed there has been a lot of effort in the area of
web based interfaces, but the existing product supports only character
based and Win32 applications. At present, there is work going on (in
the VA) in both web based interfaces and more traditional Swing based
applications. I'm not part of WorldVistA and can't speak for them, but
to my knowledge their focus has been primarily on th existing Win32
> 3. The above suggest that using Scheme could be viable. 
> You just need to find a small but important application to
> start with.  In my experience with government institutions
> there are usually hundreds of problems that people will pay
> to fix but the lumbering IT department takes too long/costs
> too much to address.  These are good areas to attack first.

Yes, and that's the rub. My area of specialization is VistA
infrastucture, not applications. True, I am now working as part of an
application team, but for years I worked only on the Kernel. So...When
I think of projects that seem, well, interesting, they don't tend to be
applications! More to the point, though, VistA isn't a spreadsheet, web
server, or even an operating system -- something that could be designed
top to bottom by computer science types -- it's an integrated medical
information system, so designing and developing applications requires
medical, as well as technical, expertise. My education is in
mathematics, and I've worked for the past 13 or so years in software
development, but I am not a physician.

> HTH,
> Noel

Gregory Woodhouse  <gregory.woodhouse at sbcglobal.net>
"Interaction is the mind-body problem of computing."
--Philip L. Wadler

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