[mercury-users] Mercury as a 1st class prototyping language ?

david wallin david at wallin.cx
Thu Oct 26 02:04:28 AEDT 2000


To get a program to pass the Mercury compiler without errors consumes 
a lot of time, at least from an new mercury programmer (like me). 
Some will argue that this time is well spent and that you get it back 
when you are (not) debugging the program.
I suppose you could also argue that a lot of the time spent is to 
help the compiler do its job as effectively as possible: type 
declarations, modes, instantiations, etc. However, wrapping your 
brain around all of these concepts takes a lot of time, and 
unfortunately it seems you have to grasp them all to get anywhere, I 
would say Mercury has a steep learning curve. (It could of course be 
the lack of Mercury books that makes me feel this way). 
Unfortunately, no matter how big reward there is in the end, a 
language that is hard to master will not get that many users.

What I would like to see is a language that gives you the possibility 
to quickly build a prototype of your idea; a proof-of-concept. When 
you see if this idea holds you can add information that will make it 
easy for the compiler to optimize.
Today you either write directly in C[++] and get stuck in debugging 
mode or you first develop a prototype of your application in an 
"easy" language  (whatever that is) and then rewrite it (parts or 
whole) in an efficient language. If you can combine these (ease & 
efficiency) you have a killer language.

I don't know how hard it would be to actually implement such a 
language. How easy would it be to make Mercury optionally more 
forgiving and make the compiler optionally require less information 
(at the cost of less optimized code) ?

any comments ?


(BTW: How accurate is the TODO list on the web, it hasn't been 
updated for almost a year)

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