[toronto-lisp] OCaml

Michael DiBernardo mikedebo at gmail.com
Thu Jan 13 13:47:08 UTC 2011

On 2011-01-13, at 8:34 AM, Rudolf Olah wrote:

> On Wed, 2011-01-12 at 23:33 -0500, D. J. Penton wrote:
>> I have to get this off my chest.
>> I am now seriously obliged to learn OCaml for use in a course in my
>> grad program. In 2010 I just tinkered with the language. But the
>> honeymoon is over.
>> So far I hate OCaml more than words can say. Maybe it's the book I'm
>> using to learn it. I ordered a different book from Amazon. I hope the
>> new book helps. If not I shall suffer grievously throughout the term.
>> I don't half mind Haskell, but Holy Snapping Assholes, Batman - not
>> OCaml, pleeeeease.
> What is it that you hate about it? I tried it out briefly and it looked
> ok. Something like haskell except imperative/deterministic ;p I liked
> the pattern matching.

I think a lot of what attracts people to functional languages the first time around is simplicity of implementation. This is in the sense that the programming model itself provides the richness, rather than relying on hundreds of different, specific language features being added to the spec/compiler.

OCaml is sort of the C++ of functionally-oriented languages in that there are a huge number of features built right into the language, each with their own specific syntax. This can get frustrating when you accidentally misuse your intended syntax and stumble into a feature that you didn't even know about. When you compound this with the fact that the error messages from the compiler aren't the greatest (at least they weren't during my last, circa-2008 experience), it does feel sort of plodding.

I am one of those people that loves OCaml for its quirks. However, I can appreciate why the haters continue to hate on it :)


Disclaimer -- I have never done anything significant in Common Lisp; I've always restricted myself to a Scheme of one flavour or another. So it's possibly that my comments about both syntactic and general simplicity are off base.

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