Monday, June 27, 2005

The Hard and the Powerful

I stumbled upon Lisp recently and have started fiddling around with it. It seems to be an entirely new world altogether. Being a C/C++ and now a Java programmer, Lisp looks HARD. Nevertheless, I read a lot of good things about it here, here etc.. (and some bad things as well). After struggling a bit with the various implementations of lisp available, I narrowed down to one of them, got it running on my machine and started coding some simple "Hello World"ish programs and reading this book.

I was a bit sceptical after seeing the extensive use of parenthesis and prefix notation ( One of the 'bad' things I've heard about lisp is this : Lots of Irritating Superfluous Parentheses). I almost felt that I was wasting my time on a complicated obsolete language. But I'm feeling a lot better now. I guess its just a matter of geting accustomed to it.
And maybe one more thing I miss is a good IDE with all the features like autocomplete, refactoring, etc. But that's not a fault of the language. Probably I have not come across one yet. However, thats not going to stop me from continuing with my Lisping.

One thing is for sure: Lisp definitely IS a powerful programming language.

Found this quote interesting:

"Lisp is worth learning for the profound enlightenment experience you will have when you finally get it; that experience will make you a better programmer for the rest of your days, even if you never actually use Lisp itself a lot."

- Eric Raymond, "How to Become a Hacker"


D. Sparks said...

The parentheses look strange at first, but then one day it hits you: "Wow...programs really are data! Those parentheses really do mean something!" Be warned, however: once you catch the "lisp bug", you'll never think the same away again.

If you're looking for an IDE to start with, you could try Lispworks. Otherwise, there are several well-documented guides on starting Lisp programming with Emacs.

Also worth noting:

Lisp machines

ANSI Common Lisp (The Book)

Best of luck.

Karthik said...

I agree with you. But I have not yet been able to take control of the language, if you know what I mean. But I am totally impressed. Thanks a lot.

Gururaj said...

Well, I agree with you on the Lisp.. And I dont bother with the parens. (Keep ur indentation clean and u dont have any problem.)

One of the proof of Lisp is Emacs and its flexiblity.

Prash said...

a lot is being spoken about this language.. i think it is time for me to put my head down and start doing something about my disinterest in learning this new language..
Any inspirations???