Typesafety versus Worse is Better - was Re: Fwd: is there any word processing software for the pdp11?

Mark Wickens mark at wickensonline.co.uk
Thu Dec 4 02:47:27 CST 2014

I love APL BTW. I just don't have the time it deserves :D

There used to be a distinction between applications level programming and
systems level programming. I've coded hundreds of thousands of lines in C
and my personal opinion on it is that you spend unnecessary brain power on
security issues. I didn't like the flat namespace and lack of modular
abstraction above function.  There may be solutions to both these issues in
modern C, but I've not seen much evidence. I didn't take to C++ as I felt
it was both a systems and applications level programming language and
didn't stand easy in either camp.

The key difference between applications level programming, such as when
writing a word processor, is to use a programming language that is more
productive. You don't need low-level access routinely. If required, you
interface with targeted C or assembler level modules with a single, defined
purpose. What you need is a language this is rich and expressive with a
broad coverage of libraries you can leverage to make the task easier. At
the same time you should be protected from shooting yourself in the foot.

Maybe the *real* answer to the question is that the smart programmer would
pick two languages to get the job done... systems level routines in C or
assember, high-level routines in a more domain-specific language. I'm
thinking here of VAXTPU for example. VMS, with the common-calling standard,
makes this a trivially viable option. Personally I can't say what language
I would use for applications level programming without more investigation.
I understand the benefits of knowing a language. It would be easier for me
to write in C because I don't have the learning curve. For the purposes of
discussions it would better to have the same view of the programming doing
the task as a reader of a scientific paper. Highly intelligent but with no
domain specific knowledge.

Has anyone considered whether it would be possible to port lua to the PDP?
It has a compact run time system. There is a microprocessor port available:


On 4 December 2014 at 07:30, Chuck Guzis <cclist at sydex.com> wrote:

> On 12/03/2014 06:45 PM, Johnny Billquist wrote:
>> This argument is so old, and so tiring.
>> Can't we just bury it?
>> Yes, some bugs will be caught by stronger types and more type checking.
>> The same stronger type system will cause people to swear and be upset
>> and try to work around it from time to time.
> And yet, we have APL, which doesn't give a fig about type.  If Ada is a
> fascist, APL is a hippie.   Yet, somehow, useful work gets done with it.
> I think the type thing is overblown.  However, the ability to create
> abstract types can be very useful, particularly if relations and operations
> on mixed-type expressions can be exhaustively defined.
> Of course, used incorrectly, it's just another set of bugs.
> --Chuck

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