[plt-scheme] Re: Is R6RS useless for PLT?

From: Tom Gordon (thomas.gordon at fokus.fraunhofer.de)
Date: Mon Nov 24 03:15:39 EST 2008

On Nov 19, 2008, at 9:33 PM, Grant Rettke wrote:

>> Anything which discourages people from making the effort to port  
>> libraries
>> to R6RS, or write new libraries in R6RS, serves to undermine R6RS.
> By that rationale the PLT group also discourages the use of the HtDP
> languages, and Typed Scheme for example! :)

PLT Scheme supports a variety of languages in an integrated way, Typed  
Scheme, R5RS and R6RS amoung them.  This is one of PLT's strengths,  
but it is a strength not shared by the current Scheme standard,  
R6RS.   Developing systems using a variety of languages supported only  
by PLT leads to systems which are not portable, but dependent on PLT.

I would like to see more libraries available in and for R6RS Scheme  
implementations and wonder whether the PLT team could or should do  
more to encourage their development and help organize the process of  
sharing portable libraries, along the lines of their PlaneT system.

Would it be techically possible to develop a translator which can  
export modules written in any language supported by PLT into portable  
R6RS libraries, for interchange purposes?   That might be a solution,  
allowing people to use the languages of their choice with PLT without  
sacrificing portability or inhibiting the development and sharing of  
portable libraries.

>> Presumably what needs to happen for R6RS to succeed is for one or  
>> more R6RS
>> implementations to become competive with PLT and begin to attract  
>> users away
>> from PLT, on their own merits.
> Please elaborate.

PLT is, it seems, the leading Scheme system at the moment.  I'm not  
sure I would go so far as to say it sets the de facto standard,  
comparable to the way Microsoft set the de facto standard for "office"  
software, but the situtation is similar, albeit on a much smaller  
scale.  It is an attractive environment which entices people to use  
it, but also become dependent on it.  We now have a suitable standard  
to help regain portability and implementation independence, R6RS, but  
we still need something like Open Office, a strong competitor to PLT  
which fully and wholeheartedly supports R6RS.   If such a competitor  
began to attract users away from PLT, the PLT team might have more of  
an incentive to make a larger commitment to  R6RS, just as Microsoft  
in the end has begun to support the ISO Open Document Format.

Some really good R6RS compilers and interpreters are now available,  
which are competitive with PLT, but they still lack PLT's rich  
programming environment and a comparably rich set of libraries.


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