Making the move...
mlange at lexicall.org
Fri Mar 17 07:44:16 EST 2006
> The missing link is the killer app made with it. RoR was virtually
> unheard of before BaseCamp took off, showing the world how powerful
> and flexible RoR is. If we had an app of similar scope and appeal
> I have no doubt that as long as the engine is free for such uses
> and the scripts are open source it would attract considerable
The possibilities have been there for about 10 years.
So why is it that Java is now in position 1 and Ruby in position 22
of the most popular programming languages and that none of xtalk,
hypertalk, transcript is mentioned anwhere in the 100 most popular
ones (though RealBasic and SmallTalk are)?
Yes, runrev product is great in the sense that it is easier to use by
beginner programmers than many other things on the market. It is also
great in the sense that it let advanced programmers do more in less
time (but not necessarily *better*). It is also great in the sense
that it let you do out of the box what would take hours if not days
to set up in other environments.
On this list, all discussions always come back to the same thing.
This product is so great, this is so evident that everybody should
adopt it... Runrev too has appeared to think that to have a great
product is enough and they had to do nothing but let it sell itself.
I am afraid, to have a great product is not enough.
What you get with Java, Ruby, Ajax that you don't get with runrev is
1) Re-usable LIBRARIES.
Honestly what I have read recently on how revolution is so much
superior to Director or Java is just a *BIG* joke. Agreed, revolution
let you write stuff rapidly. But you have to write the same stuff
again and again and again and again. But what java does is let you
write it ONCE and REUSE it again and again and again.
2) Rich and easy to access documentation
If you want to use a java library written by somebody else, simple,
you get access to the API online and you know what method to call and
how. You don't need to know *anything* about the inner workings of
the library. Why is it? Because some some conventions have been
created which let you comment your script in a very efficient way,
where the API doc can be automatically generated from these comments.
http://java.sun.com/j2se/javadoc/. There is *NOTHING* even close to
this in revolution. Here, if you want to find your way through
revolution it is by checking up the list as much as you can and post
your questions on the list (which is an important problem for non
English speaking persons). These nice little chats on the list are
without doubt helping both the sender and the receiver feel very good
about themselves, so priviledged to be in such a great community.
Let's face it. This way of doing is plain inefficient compared to the
way of doing in ruby or java communities.
3) Member's sense of investment in making their work freely available
Yes, you can do fantastic stuff with revolution. But you have to
start from zero and do everything by yourself.
Because of all the effort, it is only worth it if you plan to sell
your application to a small numbers of high-paying clients.
So Richard, why is it that sourceforge project you are admin of is
still empty? It was registered in 2001.
"A project to create a publicly accessible library of handlers for
the xTalk family of languages. The immediate aim of this project is
to create a robust library of handlers for the cross platform
Metacard/RunRev xTalk family of products."
I had a chance to see David's (Bovil) library of handlers: Very
So, Lynch, if you have written such nice and reusable libraries for
providing better table objects, why not share it with others? Maybe
then, rather than have each one of us repeat your work, we may be
able to start, collaboratively, construct tools of this quality:
4) Structure that encourages and facilitates collaboration
You can, in fact turn your work into reusable libraries, with a bit
of experience in writing such stacks. People like Eric, Scott, and
many others have very generously contributed high quality demo
stacks, but the number of libraries available is just ridiculous
compared to the ones on rubyforge/sourceforge. In sharp contrast with
the ruby and java community, these libraries are not shared, there is
nothing like rubyforge or sourceforge where you can easily provide
information about your project and receive feedback on them. There is
nothing like rubyforge or sourceforge where you can get to know of
the existing projects and get to propose your collaboration.
On top, though it is possible to write libraries, there are aspects
of the transcript languages which don't really make it pratical to
consider flexibly using 20-100 libaries. Scott Raney recognized this
and was apparently planning to work on it. Hence, another *very*
important paragraph on the Metacard annoucement page (http://
"The MetaTalk language will also be extended to provide a more full
featured object-oriented programming environment, which will allow
development of larger-scale applications with MetaCard. The key
tenants of object-oriented programming - encapsulation, polymorphism,
and inheritance - are already available in the MetaTalk language, but
must be extended before MetaCard will be as appropriate for large
multi-developer projects as it is for the single-user projects that
are presently its forte. "
In sharp contrast with the work initiated and planned by S. Raney,
what I have witnessed over the years is a readiness from runrev to
punish the ones who had made significant contributions to the
community. Richmond was banished for his views on opensource. Ken's
stackrunner has been recently not outlawed. Xavier was attacked for
preferring to use a product -- metacard -- that authorizes the
creation of true open source resource... without any "not allowed to
do anything that could be interpreted as competition" clause. I have
heard that despite an official discourse of authorizing freeGui,
another open source project, Kevin in fact contacted Alain Farmer to
ask him to stop... or at least make sure it was not too successful.
5) Equalitarian system where the contribution of each person is
valued the same way
In rubyforge, sourceforge, what counts in the quality of the library.
There is little information about the professional status of the
persons involved in each project. Profit and non-profit have the same
opportunity to have their initiative noticed. There is revonline, but
it's really nothing compared to rubyforge or sourceforge and there is
a 10MB limit anyway so you cannot really post anything but toy
projects there. As a result, members don't get a chance to get to
benefit from excellent open source resources already developed by non
profit members. FYI, in reality, something as good as google earth
has been realised long ago in our community. It has been advertised
on our lists. But this person didn't present himself as a
professional... because he was not one and he apparently largelly
ignored. http://ddm.geo.umass.edu/. The excellent work of Jim Hurley
and others have suffered similar fates.
A problem, though, is that implementing 1-5 is not adequate with a
marketing model like the one adopted with Metacard. In fact, a killer
app like the one outlined above is not meant to appear with that
marketing model. This is because metacard was originally targeted to
a market not interested in this. Because Metacard forced you to pay a
high entry cost both in terms of money and time for self-learning,
the best approach, for anybody who paid that entry cost was to aim at
selling his apps to a small number of clients, develop a rich set of
libraries for yourself and avoid your possible competitors to get to
know too much about the libraries you developed.
But now, there is a new marketing strategy of a low entry price,
which will attract more and more people from a non profit background.
However, keeping both ends of the market appear impossible to me.
In the absence of any work done to address 1-4, this will only create
crises, like we have seen with Richmond, Xavier, and I guess myself.
But because runrev is apparently keen to keep the clients interested
in the metacard line of product, addressing 1-5 will create
difficulties with these clients. You cannot really charge your client
for hours of hard work when your client is well aware that a library
already exist that do all the work.
There is a conundrum that needs to be solved.
Applications like Basecamp will not be built with tools that present
such a conundrum. At least, I know for myself that I have now decided
to turn to options other than runrev to develop projects that could
have given that level of visibility to runrev products.... Despite
the fact that I consider runrev product to be the very best option to
realize my project, technically speaking, I have decided to keep away
from it *because* of that conundrum.
My only hope now is to hear that Lynn has joined runrev. Information
on the web seems to indicate Lynn has good experience providing
businesses with guidance to help them become more successful. I have
read that he spent some time working in Japan. I bet he is familiar
with the Kaizen method of continuous incremental improvements is an
originally Japanese management concept for incremental (gradual,
continuous) change (improvement). This Kaizen philosophy lies behind
many Japanese management concepts such as Total Quality Control,
Quality Control circles, small group activities, labor relations. Key
elements of Kaizen are quality, effort, involvement of all employees,
willingness to change, and communication.
You will notice that RubyForge and SourceForge in a sense are an
implementation of the Kaizen methods. That's why progress is so fast
I heard the Kaizen method has done wonders here in Scotland:
Kaizen Resultant Gets Lean Government Results in Scotland
By Jon Miller - February 12, 2006 04:23 AM
In Lean government news, kaizen is taking place in the Scottish
government according to the Scotsman online news. An article titled
The Man Who Would Save Scottish Industry on Sunday profiled kaizen
consultant, excuse me, resultant Stuart Ross. Mr. Ross has been doing
good work with kaizen not only in Scottish industry but is also
bringing Lean government to Scotland.
You know the best, this super resultant, Scott Ross, has a hearing
disability. An excellent lesson of the benefits there are to include
I am impatient to see how Lynn will use his experience and expertise
to introduce incremental changes. Runrev active involvement in
Monterey's conference was in my view an excellent omen. But there is
still that conundrum to solve. I am curious to see how runrev will
get out of it.
Marielle Lange (PhD), Psycholinguist
Alternative emails: mlange at blueyonder.co.uk,
Easy access to lexical databases http://
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