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- Subject: How can we make lua better?
- From: Martin Hollis <mhollis@...>
- Date: Tue, 04 Jun 2002 17:57:47 +0000
If I may be so bold, I would like to say something about the long term
development of lua, which also applies to all things.
Lua is a marvellous language, which ably fills a niche. It is small in
memory, simple to learn, powerful to use, and efficient to run.
There is always much discussion on this list on the subject of improving
lua. This is a good thing, and it is a great list.
However, such discussion, as a rule, is about features that might be added
to the language, in order to make it more powerful. This can be categorized as:
A) "How can we make lua more powerful (and more complex)".
The problem is, there is little discussion or thought on the subject of:
B) "How can we make lua simpler (and not less powerful)".
Sadly, B) is harder. Much harder. Orders of magnitude harder. A) is easy.
Nearly anyone can do it. It's that easy. It's like falling off a log. You
need a feature, you imagine it, you suggest it. But very few people can
achieve or contribute towards B). I, for example, have nothing to
contribute to B (except this plea). And B) takes a special kind of
attitude, a kind of zen-like ascetic. You could even say genius.
Because A) is easy, and B) is hard, we have concepts like 'featuritus', and
'bloat', and we have lightweight languages like Java, and powerful
languages like C++, that developed over many versions, by iterating the
harmless step: 'Add power by adding one feature'.
Even cancer grows slowly.
I think I can sense the majority view in this list. We don't want bloat. We
don't want 'lua++'. If anything, we want 'lua--'.
I suspect the creators of lua are deeply influenced by the content of this
list, so I would simply like to implore and encourage everybody on it to
think about the question "How can we make lua simpler (and not less
If 50% of the effort is focused on this question, then perhaps we will find
a way. How to do this? Some possibilities are:
* Generalize and abstract to combine features
* Refactor features
* Elide warts
* Normalize to written or unwritten standards
Is it possible for lua n+1 to have 4 more features, and 4 fewer features
than lua n? If it is, then lua could live forever, and I will be very happy.
Otherwise, sadness, and quiet acceptance of lua n.
I release this text into the public domain. Credit is nice.
PS This post is not related to any particular discussion presently ongoing.