[racket] article about Racket

From: Raoul Duke (raould at gmail.com)
Date: Sat Nov 12 22:00:05 EST 2011

On Sat, Nov 12, 2011 at 6:46 PM, Shriram Krishnamurthi <sk at cs.brown.edu> wrote:
> too vague (and, if you don't mind my saying, a bit too inflammatory)

(a) oh based on previous experience, i expect you of all people to be
blunt! so i don't mind at all! :-)

<warning: cranky pants me here on below! apologies, and thanks for
having thick skins.>

(b) i just did the 5 (okay maybe 7) minute thing that i did before and
it pretty much reaffirmed what i recollect about the bad taste in my
mouth after using it.

[i love how i wrote this in an outline bulleted format in a google
doc, but when i paste it here it loses the bullets and i have to
manually go and put "*"s in there. whatever. i guess we are living in
the future of wonderful systems That Just Work ha ha.]

where i'm coming from: i sorta know how to program, has used fps as
well as bog-standard main-stream oos, uses a range of os, i've written
gui stuff (both framework and app), i've used ides from emacs to
intellij to visual studio to visualjava/cafe, and now i'm all excited
to try to get stuck into dr. racket because i love scheme and want to
try to expand my horizons. i happen to live in 2011 at the moment. i'm
using a macbook pro and mac os x. (at home i use that or linux since
my xp box is dead.) i'm really picky when it comes to usability and
polish. not polish for the sake of polish, but all that for the sake
of making the experience at least do no harm to the user, and if
possible give them a wonderfully smooth experience. i have read
enough, and used enough stuff to have a sense of what that means.
things like as a high-level rule of thumb: not making the user feel
punished by the system. so...

    * it doesn’t look like a native app, so it is very off-putting and
has unsettled me from the get-go. even just the basic app menus aren’t
remotely native-app looking. this looks like something that was hacked
up in tk circa 1987 or some other "i purport to be cross-platform but
really i'm just stab in the eye on all platforms rather than something
that feels cozy at home on each platform." yes, i know cross-platform
is really, really hard.
    * it seems to be serving too many different audiences out of the
box. having to choose a language is pretty confusing. is dr. racket
aimed first at top-level PLT folks who grok multi-lingual stuff? i
think that should be more ‘advanced’ and thus hidden. i’d start it out
in some basic middle-of-the-road language.
    * killer bad: when i evaluate code from the top pane, my cursor
gets moved to the bottom pane and i have to manually get it back up
top to edit my program.
    * killer bad: clicking on Check Syntax
        * changes the ui drastically and i have no idea how to get
back to how it was before i clicked it.
        * also there were no visible results of clicking it, no report
card, no “ok” even. i had (+ 3 2) as the program.
        * doing (+ 3 z) at least hilighted the z, but that was a
really small thing and hard to see and hard to know what it  means and
what to do with it and where to go from there. the ui is not showing
me what to do.
        * hovering over the hilighted z does nothing.
    * at this point, basically literally 5 or 7 minutes into using it,
i’m ready to throw it out. the system is apparently utterly unhelpful,
and seems to really try to lead me down various crazy garden paths of
    * like, i guess i have to quit the entire app and start it again
to get the 2 pane format back? [oh i guess i can "run" it again to get
it back at least.]


[ i reaaaaaaalllllllllyyyyyy want to have the time and energy to learn
all the stupendous stuff You All in Racket Land have done. but i have
to say that the tools are not in and of themselves making it welcoming
and inviting and comfortable and safe feeling.]

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