Tuesday, December 5, 2006

Reddit switches to python

Yes, I know, old news, Reddit switched to python an year ago, and there's even a whole c.l.l. thread on the topic. But I haven't read much about it, and find that I'm writing stuff that essentially adds no value: implementing a poor wiki when I could have an open source one that has been battle tested. There is functionality I need that the current crop of wikis don't provide so well, so there is genuinely a need for adding functionality. But that doesn't mean I should be writing a wiki in lisp. Even if it means I get to have fun hacking up new ways of manipulating XML.

Certainly, there are many tools currently missing from the common lisp world for building applications. I want to write some of them. But to fail to develop an idea because I have spent time writing tools is irresponsible. There's only one reasonable way I can see going forward: to do both.

While trying to write my application, I approached a colleague who appreciates the power of Lisp but at the same time has a healthy skepticism for how much a single programmer might produce alone. There are things that Lisp does well, and there are things at which it is presently rather poor. We have to catch up in spheres where Lisp is relatively poor: the web application frameworks need to be richer and more powerful. And there are some things we can do that truly play on the strengths of lisp. His suggestion was to write a javascript engine in lisp for the server side. There are lots of projects that try to implement lisp in language X. How about the reverse? There is a lot of stuff being written in Javascript because of the convenience of doing so, even on the server side. Because of its dynamic nature, Lisp could make a killer javascript engine.