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I am a Lua newby, not a programmer by any measure, at best a scriptor of small things, so forgive my intrusion.

Lua is a truly lovely language (I am still getting to grips with it), its core needs to remain as is, but the extensions which unlike Python remain syntaxtically consistent with the core, are much needed. Kepler has proved a delight and I await its updating to 5.1 eagerly.

I have a minor gripe, the use of environmental variables to locate modules/libraries. I would shift way from this as main means and instead have a simple lua ini file, that can be edited by hand, is in Lua and can be read.

It's first line should exstablish a base location using relative relationships between the lua.exe and the directories it is within. Loaded as a table identifying the relative paths to whatever libraries and alternative calling names for the functions etc.,.

This may be naive suggestion, but Lua.exe + particular.ini/ or defualt.ini + script would seem a simple and flexible approach.

Mind you I am witing to recieve my Amzon order of the reference manual and programing guide, so this suggestion may be a result of simple ignorance, the fact is getting the environment variables right took some time, are apparently invisible and I much prefer  reading a file to see what is where.

I should end by saying that LUA has a great opportunity to move into the mainstream, my previous experience was with REXX ( a lovely language corrupted by Object REXX), Python was inviting, at first, but the complications of its extensions soo put me off. Rebol, likewise.

Lua has the best philosophy of the lot, external functions seamlessly integrated within an uncorrupted syntax is just perfect.

I would use a rule of thumb for future development. Consider the scriptor, like myself, who does a little instense scripting and then might not get back to it for a half year or more. The initial learning curve is one thing, but the secret is the returning relearning curve. That is once having left the language for a considerable amount of time, how long does it take to get back to speed with using it.

With old style REXX, it usually took me just twenty minutes to fumble back to full speed and avoid silly errors. Python, is not difficult to get back to, but its extensions usually mean hours of work and frustration just geting back to effeciency (and not usually successfully).

Now Lua comes back to me in 10 to 20 minutes (on par with REXX), but importantly when I recently used the Expat extensions in Kepler for the first time, I actually came back to the language, after more than six months, worked out how to load the module and had something written and working (just a crude test) within an hour. That is the critical part, the selling elegance of Lua (mind you it did take over an hour to work out and set up the environmental path variables before I could get going properly - hence my, suggestion above, re ini files).

It is people like me, occassional scriptors, who are Lua's opportunity. Lua's elegance is the selling point, unfortunatly it is not something that can be comparatively tested. But I would suggest it is a language that can proclaim that once learned it is remembered forever. The syntax is solid yet flexible, simple and also robust - it has no specials, no "if you want to do X you must use this new syntax". 

what is more I am excited by what I can do, that is important as I am a novice, other languages have excited me for what I might do, but in practice I could not, not in the way I want to use a scripting language (pick it up do a job and drop it). I am not a programmer and will never be one, but I like getting things done with my computer hence I need a good scripting language.

I have been talking to a company who seems interested in including Lua, hopefully this will add another project to your list.

Thank you for your splendid software, keep the syntax pristine, add the functions in consistantly and external to the core (uncluttered is best), in other words keep doing what you have already achieved and the future is very bright indeed.

Greg Schofield
Perth Australia

PS have a talk to Hyperion who are relaunching the Amiga OS very soon now. They have an old REXX interpretor that comes with it, there is already a LUA port, see if you can convince them to put LUA in the public release, it is a small base of Amiga fans, but the Amiga was alweays a lovely OS to work with (very user friendly and veristile, easy to understand and customise). There is talk of it being made available for the PS3.

--- Message Received ---
From: Jimmie Houchin <>
To: Lua list <>
Reply-To: Lua list <>
Date: Wed, 27 Dec 2006 00:18:43 -0600
Subject: Lua's opportunity

There has been some interesting commentary dispersed amongst a few
different threads. I know starting a new thread takes my comments out of
the context of the threads I speak of.

As one who as used or dabbled with a few languages preferring to use
Squeak (Smalltalk) and/or Python.

I believe there is great potential for the future of Lua. I think Lua
could offer an excellent alternative to Perl, Python, Ruby, etc.
Yes, like many here, I believe it already does. But I believe could be
in a stronger position.

Lua is a nice and clean language. It is small and performs excellently.
I think Lua core can remain nice and small. Have a bunch of C and Lua
modules available as a part of a standard Lua distribution. Sort of like 
Python's batteries included.

The language landscape is constantly changing. All of the other
languages are working towards their next version, Perl 6, Python 3, Ruby
2. All of these are a ways off. Ruby and Python are 1+ year(s) away.

I know in 1 year Lua won't achieve the libraries in the other languages. 
However, I do believe that progress can be made which would make Lua a
more attractive and viable alternative and one which would get chosen by 
more people until such a time that the community is large enough to 
build comparable libraries.

As a newcomer to Lua I love the language. Clean, fast, no whitespace 
issues like Python. But it is quite a challenge to search and find the 
community contributed libraries. I think it would be wonderful if the 
community would select and bless certain libraries as standard. Make 
them available for the various platforms compiled and ready to use.

I am not a C programmer or use Lua embedded. However, I love many of the 
characteristics of Lua which enable C programmers and embedders. But I 
would dearly love for Lua to be able to compete most excellently with 
Python, Ruby, et al.

As can be seen in the switch from Python to Ruby, or any other language. 
There is plenty of room for gains for a nice language like Lua provided 
it meets a sufficient amount of the needs of the developer.

There are always people just beginning to learn to program. Why not Lua?

People who want something clean like Python but without the whitespace 
issue. People who want blocks without the line noise issue of Ruby.
Lua, Lua, Lua... :)

I almost went with Python because it is simpler to use when on Windows. 
I wanted to use Luiz libraries for some things but they are in C and I 
don't compile on Windows. But fortunately I am not deploying on Windows 
and have never let the limitations of Windows stop me before. :)

 From my limited view it seems that Lua to be optimally available for a 
Python/Ruby candidate that it desires a few things.

A standardized object oriented programming model. But one that does not 
eliminate or reduce the available to program in other paradigms.

Standardized, packaged, compiled libraries. Especially for the platforms 
that binary packages are standard. For Linux a nice tarball, configure 
and make files are often enough. That would be enough for package 
maintainers to package for their distributions.

I am trying to encourage Lua developers and mean no disrespect. I think 
that Lua is great. But I think that the future of Lua to be better than 
Python 3, Ruby 2, Perl 6, is a very real and possible opportunity.

None of those currently exist. And currently neither does the Lua that 
can beat them. But I think Lua can. The language is close. The 
performance is there. The libraries need help. Some of them exist. But 
they need packaged together, compiled and standardized.

Am I wrong? What do the long time Lua users think? What can we, the Lua 
community do to achieve a better future for Lua? for programming?

Apologies for the length. I just wanted to get these thoughts off my 
mind. I really, really believe that in the time that it will take for 
the future versions of Python, Perl, Ruby to exist that Lua can be a 
most excellent and viable alternative for people choosing a language. I 
would like to do what I can for that future.

How do we get there?

In hope for a bright future.

Jimmie Houchin