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On Mon, Nov 16, 2020 at 1:02 PM Albert Krewinkel <> wrote:

James Darnley writes:

> On 12/11/2020, Sorn Županić Maksumić <> wrote:
>> The reason I'm sending this email is that I want to
>> make Lua accessible to everyone, especially beginners.
> Why?  Popularity ruins everything.

Couple of reasons:

 * Makes it easier to justify using Lua in a program;
 * less effort required to teach users;
 * higher popularity means more devs means more people doing cool stuff
   (I like cool stuff);
 * being popular can lead to support through big companies, which,
   again, leads to better language infra.

The reason the Torch AI project team switched to Python from Lua was because of the popularity that Python has had recently. They were losing mindshare because Lua wasn't (isn't) very popular. As soon as they moved to Python, their usage trended much higher. I have been pushing Lua as a scripting language here at work for some time. I have repeatedly demonstrated the flexibility and awesomeness of Lua and used it in many places for our Canadian Emergency Ventilator. But when our optics group decided they needed a hacking language they picked Python because it's popular and easy (Jupyter Notepads). When the EE team decided to start putting together algorithms for prototype testing they picked Python because "all the cool tools support python".  When the QA team needed something for verification algorithms, they picked Python because there were lots of packages available that had the routines they wanted. How can I argue for Lua against that? Lua doesn't even have a standard library! My argument would go like this: "Ya but guys, if you spend twice as long and write that in Lua, we could embed it in an Arm based router!  Yes, you will have to hack together every little library you want and deal with everyone's bugs because not enough people are using the components, but it's embeddable!"

While popularity may put as-yet-unforseen pressures on a community, obscurity is a real killer.  That is experience as someone that loved (loves) Windows Phone, BBOS, Mono and FreeBSD. I'm not saying Lua is dead or dying or anything stupid like that. I'm just saying making Lua a little more accessible wouldn't kill anyone and would sure help it's uptake.

Would I like to see a desktop community for Lua? Absolutely. Does Lua need more uptake? I don't know; there are tens of millions of kids writing Lua in Roblox as we speak. OpenWRT doesn't seem to care that nobody is using Lua. Sierra Wireless doesn't need your support to use Lua in it's modems. The FreeBSD bootloader project will continue using Lua without complaint. It seems the communities that need Lua and want to use Lua are doing just fine. Those people just aren't on this mailing list.


Take Haskell, which has the motto "avoid success at all costs". I think
it is a good motto when parsed as "avoid (success at all costs)."
Ruining things for the sake of being popular is no fun. Being popular
for one's awesomeness seems great though.

I want my languages to be good, but I also enjoy to see my code being
*used*. Being able to condescendingly tell people about how my obscure
language is far superior is pretty far down on my list of priorities.[^1]

[^1]: OK, fine. I *may* sometimes get that snobbish facial _expression_
      when I tell people that Lua is "like _javascript_, but without the
      bad parts". But that's entirely Lua's fault. ;)

Albert Krewinkel
GPG: 8eed e3e2 e8c5 6f18 81fe  e836 388d c0b2 1f63 1124