Wednesday, July 6, 2005


As part of my undergraduate education, I spent a fair amount of time programming in Scheme, which is a dialect of LISP. At the time, I didn't really appreciate how truly powerful LISP is, but in the intervening years, as I've seen languages like C# and Java grow up, I've made or heard the comment “Yeah, LISP already has that” enough times to make me consider trying to program exclusively in LISP for a while. As was the case with my self-imposed switch to Test Driven Development, forcing myself to use a new technology is guaranteed to be a great way to learn something. The kicker, of course, is that I'd really miss the .NET libraries - at this stage of my career writing your own file IO routines is only fun for about ten minutes, and learning new ones is only slightly more fun.

Not that that's going to stop me from learning Ruby1. You've probably heard the buzz around it lately - I certainly have. Buzz I can generally ignore, but when smart people like Brad get excited about something, I generally try to get around to looking into it sooner or later. Particularly when Scott raves about Watir, and I need something that looks a lot like that for several projects I'm working on. So yesterday I started to work through a pretty good Ruby tutorial on my way to playing with Watir, and I thought to myself, “Man, this looks a lot like LISP's child by a shell script mother.” Not the syntax - there Ruby and LISP are pretty different - but in a qualitative way that I have a hard time pinning down...they just “feel“ similar in how they deal with programming abstractions at a high level. I don't know: it's hard for me to express given how little Ruby I've done and how little LISP I've done lately.

Anyway, this morning I'm flipping through my aggregator entries, and I see this post from Pinku Surana about how it would be relatively easy for someone to knock out a LISP.NET implementation. Combine this with the fact that I'm basically between gigs right now, and I think the planets are aligning - it seems I'm being directed to learn a higher-level language. I just need some flaming letters on the mountainside to be sure. :)

1. Although it looks like there's a Ruby/.NET bridge - have to check that out at some point.


  1. Hope you have fun with Ruby. In my latest stint at the University I picked up Ruby during a programming languages class (taught mostly in scheme). I really loved using it in another class (Data Security) because if its expressive capability, if you can think of an abstraction, Ruby can probably accomodate you.

  2. I'm an old time Lisper, and i haven't like a language as much as Ruby since.