what's wrong with REBOL?

Discussion in 'Python' started by Mike Henley, Sep 2, 2003.

  1. Mike Henley

    Mike Henley Guest

    I first came across rebol a while ago; it seemed interesting but then
    i was put off by its proprietary nature, although the core of the
    language is a free download.

    Recently however, i can't help but say i was totally impressed. I
    needed an open source wikiblog/wikilog, whatever you wanna call it,
    basically a hybrid of a blog and a wiki. I checked out snipsnap, which
    uses java, it was said on their site to be a clone of vanilla, a
    wikilog written with rebol. I wanted an open source thing so i could
    modify it to my needs.

    snipsnap turned out to be, even apparent on the first day of use, way
    too far from being mature and reliable, and although they said it
    doesn't require a server, it required a download of the sun java sdk,
    which, when installed, was well over 400Mbs of space on my hard drive.
    Not to mention another over 100Mbs for the JVM.

    So as i needed a mature enough solution, but liked the way snipsnap
    worked, i looked around, and on freshmeat i found vanilla, with a
    development status of 5; production/stable. I went to its site, where
    a working demo impressed with its capabilities. The site is though
    poorly documented, very poorly documented i had to use trial and error
    to work out how to install it. Anyhow, what impressed me was that the
    download, which was less than half a megabyte, installed vanilla,
    which is the wikilog, an apache server, and the rebol interpreter,
    which is the free download version. And it self-installed! It turned
    out to be a very very capable wikilog, and highly extensible. I am
    still amazed and impressed by it after a couple of days of use.

    Rebol itself seemed a very easy to read language. Sorta like ho
    readable SQL is. I might even say more readable than python or ruby,
    or at least as readable.

    I have the intention to learn it over the coming few days, at least to
    customize vanilla to my needs.

    So i ask you guys, what's wrong with Rebol? i mean other than it's
    proprietary nature. 'cos anyway, there are many commercial IDEs for
    open source languages, and if smitten enough i might even consider a
    rebol SDK. It just amazes me for how readable it is, how much it seems
    to enable to do with so little code, and the size and capability of
    the final solution.

    What's wrong with Rebol?
    Mike Henley, Sep 2, 2003
    #1
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  2. Mike Henley

    John Roth Guest

    "Mike Henley" <> wrote in message
    news:...
    > I first came across rebol a while ago; it seemed interesting but then
    > i was put off by its proprietary nature, although the core of the
    > language is a free download.
    >
    > Recently however, i can't help but say i was totally impressed. I
    > needed an open source wikiblog/wikilog, whatever you wanna call it,
    > basically a hybrid of a blog and a wiki. I checked out snipsnap, which
    > uses java, it was said on their site to be a clone of vanilla, a
    > wikilog written with rebol. I wanted an open source thing so i could
    > modify it to my needs.
    >
    > snipsnap turned out to be, even apparent on the first day of use, way
    > too far from being mature and reliable, and although they said it
    > doesn't require a server, it required a download of the sun java sdk,
    > which, when installed, was well over 400Mbs of space on my hard drive.
    > Not to mention another over 100Mbs for the JVM.
    >
    > So as i needed a mature enough solution, but liked the way snipsnap
    > worked, i looked around, and on freshmeat i found vanilla, with a
    > development status of 5; production/stable. I went to its site, where
    > a working demo impressed with its capabilities. The site is though
    > poorly documented, very poorly documented i had to use trial and error
    > to work out how to install it. Anyhow, what impressed me was that the
    > download, which was less than half a megabyte, installed vanilla,
    > which is the wikilog, an apache server, and the rebol interpreter,
    > which is the free download version. And it self-installed! It turned
    > out to be a very very capable wikilog, and highly extensible. I am
    > still amazed and impressed by it after a couple of days of use.
    >
    > Rebol itself seemed a very easy to read language. Sorta like ho
    > readable SQL is. I might even say more readable than python or ruby,
    > or at least as readable.
    >
    > I have the intention to learn it over the coming few days, at least to
    > customize vanilla to my needs.
    >
    > So i ask you guys, what's wrong with Rebol? i mean other than it's
    > proprietary nature. 'cos anyway, there are many commercial IDEs for
    > open source languages, and if smitten enough i might even consider a
    > rebol SDK. It just amazes me for how readable it is, how much it seems
    > to enable to do with so little code, and the size and capability of
    > the final solution.
    >
    > What's wrong with Rebol?


    I don't know that there's anything "wrong" with it, other than
    it's a special purpose language designed to fit in one niche,
    and do its job well (at least in the eyes of its designers.)
    I'm not about to download a humongous reference manual
    to compare it with Python. If it serves your needs, go for it.

    John Roth
    John Roth, Sep 2, 2003
    #2
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  3. Mike Henley

    Terry Reedy Guest

    "Mike Henley" <> wrote in message
    news:...
    > So as i needed a mature enough solution, but liked the way snipsnap
    > worked, i looked around, and on freshmeat i found vanilla, with a
    > development status of 5; production/stable. I went to its site,

    where
    > a working demo impressed with its capabilities. The site is though
    > poorly documented, very poorly documented i had to use trial and

    error
    > to work out how to install it.


    If you learned something that might help others, consider contributing
    a writeup if you think (or find out) that site maintainers would
    consider adding it.

    > What's wrong with Rebol?


    It is not Python ;-) and I don't know what unmet need it would fill
    for me. But your experience moved it up a bit on the list of
    languages I might look at someday.

    Terry J. Reedy
    Terry Reedy, Sep 2, 2003
    #3
  4. After takin a swig o' Arrakan spice grog, (Mike Henley) belched out...:
    > I first came across rebol a while ago; it seemed interesting but then
    > i was put off by its proprietary nature, although the core of the
    > language is a free download.

    ... much omitted ...
    > What's wrong with Rebol?


    "What's wrong" is that 'proprietary nature.' If I write code in Perl,
    Python, or Ruby, I can be certain that I won't get bitten because of
    someone pulling the rug out from under them.

    I can't be certain in the same way of the perpetual availability of
    REBOL.

    Furthermore, if I am considering whether to build and contribute a
    module to REBOL (where the user base is necessarily limited) or to
    Perl/Python/Ruby, I'd be more inclined to do the latter. And so there
    are LOTS of third party libraries for these other languages.
    --
    (reverse (concatenate 'string "moc.enworbbc" "@" "enworbbc"))
    http://cbbrowne.com/info/linuxdistributions.html
    Rules of the Evil Overlord #102. "I will not waste time making my
    enemy's death look like an accident -- I'm not accountable to anyone
    and my other enemies wouldn't believe it.
    Christopher Browne, Sep 2, 2003
    #4
  5. Mike Henley

    Jeff Epler Guest

    On Tue, Sep 02, 2003 at 09:03:17PM +0000, Christopher Browne wrote:
    > "What's wrong" is that 'proprietary nature.' If I write code in Perl,
    > Python, or Ruby, I can be certain that I won't get bitten because of
    > someone pulling the rug out from under them.
    >
    > I can't be certain in the same way of the perpetual availability of
    > REBOL.


    Of course, it's also possible that it might become impossible to use
    "non-proprietary" software.

    There are legal reasons: Perhaps the software will be found to violate
    a patent, or infringe copyright. Perhaps it will be judged to violate a
    DMCA-type law. Perhaps a new "software defects" law will be impossible
    for free software to conform to (for instance, due to a requirement that
    the software developer post a bond against damages caused by defects in
    the software).

    There are also technical reasons: How many programmer-hours do you think
    it would take to port X10 (the predecessor to X11) to MacOS X running
    on Itanium? Or to XBox2? What if the dominant machine/OS combination in
    the future makes it hard or impossible to run programs written in your
    chosen language (JVM doesn't support C efficiently, for instance), or
    uses DRM to keep you from running arbitrary unsigned code (under a system
    of this type, interpreters like Python would obvously never be Signed)

    Jeff
    Jeff Epler, Sep 2, 2003
    #5
  6. Jeff Epler <> wrote previously:
    |There are legal reasons: Perhaps the software will be found to violate
    |a patent, or infringe copyright. Perhaps it will be judged to violate a
    |DMCA-type law. Perhaps a new "software defects" law will be impossible
    |for free software to conform to (for instance, due to a requirement that
    |the software developer post a bond against damages caused by defects in
    |the software).

    Yeah... and perhaps the word 'disingenuous' will be removed from future
    editions of popular dictionaries; and then we will lack a concise way to
    describe "special pleading" of this sort. I think it's unlikely though.

    Yours, Lulu...

    --
    mertz@ _/_/_/_/_/_/_/ THIS MESSAGE WAS BROUGHT TO YOU BY:_/_/_/_/ v i
    gnosis _/_/ Postmodern Enterprises _/_/ s r
    ..cx _/_/ MAKERS OF CHAOS.... _/_/ i u
    _/_/_/_/_/ LOOK FOR IT IN A NEIGHBORHOOD NEAR YOU_/_/_/_/_/ g s
    Lulu of the Lotus-Eaters, Sep 3, 2003
    #6
  7. Mike Henley

    Tim Lesher Guest

    Jeff Epler <> wrote in message news:<>...
    > On Tue, Sep 02, 2003 at 09:03:17PM +0000, Christopher Browne wrote:
    > > "What's wrong" is that 'proprietary nature.' If I write code in Perl,
    > > Python, or Ruby, I can be certain that I won't get bitten because of
    > > someone pulling the rug out from under them.
    > >
    > > I can't be certain in the same way of the perpetual availability of
    > > REBOL.

    >
    > Of course, it's also possible that it might become impossible to use
    > "non-proprietary" software.


    Yes, but any of the apocalyptic situations you mention could happen
    equally well with proprietary software, and comparing the complexity
    of portion X10 to that of porting Python (or a similarly-sized,
    well-factored language) is ridiculous.

    The gamut of things that would make you completely lose your
    investment in the language is non-zero with open source languages like
    Perl or Python, but it's definitely smaller than with proprietary ones
    like REBOL.

    On that note, I tried REBOL a few years ago, just before trying
    Python. I found it an amazing language, but I settled on Python for
    exactly this reason. Since then, I've found the Python community to
    have grown significantly, while the REBOL community has not. I don't
    think that's a coincidence.

    --
    Tim Lesher
    Tim Lesher, Sep 3, 2003
    #7
  8. In article <>,
    Jeff Epler <> wrote:
    >For a language to be "right" for me, it must satisfy a lot of qualities.
    >
    >One of them is some notion of freedom. For instance, will I be left
    >high and dry if I want to use this language on some new device or
    >system architecture? (For instance, when I start buying Itanium or
    >Opteron servers to replace my racks of decrepit Xeons..)
    >
    >Here are two ways I can be pretty sure this won't happen:
    >* Can I have the source code? (C, C++, Python, Perl) I'll port it to
    > my new platform.
    >* Is there already a standard with multiple working implementations?
    > (C, C++, C#, Python) This multiplies the chances that some
    > implementation will be ported to my new platform.
    >
    >As far as I can tell, the Rebol folks don't include source code with any
    >of their licensing options (SDK, etc), and it doesn't look like their
    >documentation gives enough information for a third-party to write their
    >own implementation either.
    >
    >Of course, for those who already rely on single-source software with no
    >source-code availability (*cough*microsoft*cough*), maybe this isn't
    >such a big deal. But having been prevented from upgrading to a modern
    >version of a compiler by a no-source third-party C++ library recently,
    >I don't relish the idea of being reduced to begging for a recompiled
    >version of commercial software again.
    >
    >Jeff
    >


    Source code is available for some parts of REBOL, under
    some circumstances. Discussion of REBOL's proprietary,
    closed-source nature has dominated this thread, though,
    and that's appropriate.

    REBOL has a few technical failings, as well. While I think
    it's quite rare for anyone to decide against REBOL because
    of these, there's real value in being specific, rather than
    treating the language as a rather cloudy abstraction.

    Unfortunately, I'm not a good candidate for the task. It's
    been a couple years since I was current with REBOL. Among
    the blemishes I believe the language (including its
    libraries) still exhibits are:
    * an inflexible concurrency model
    * cumbersome interfaces to modules
    coded in other languages (conse-
    quence: embedding and extending
    are impractical)
    * arguable scalability, in the sense
    of what appears to be skimpy sup-
    port for team-written projects
    * no /APACHE for convenient scripting
    with the market-leading Web server
    * near GUIlessness
    * inconsistent functional-vs-object-
    oriented semantics in aspects of
    program evaluation

    Conclusion: there's a lot to like about REBOL; it's not
    perfect; its licensing, rather than technical factors,
    dominates most use decisions.
    --

    Cameron Laird <>
    Business: http://www.Phaseit.net
    Personal: http://phaseit.net/claird/home.html
    Cameron Laird, Sep 4, 2003
    #8
  9. Jeff Epler <> wrote previously:
    |There are legal reasons: Perhaps the software will be found to violate
    |a patent, or infringe copyright. Perhaps it will be judged to violate a
    |DMCA-type law. Perhaps a new "software defects" law will be impossible
    |for free software to conform to (for instance, due to a requirement that
    |the software developer post a bond against damages caused by defects in
    |the software).

    Yeah... and perhaps the word 'disingenuous' will be removed from future
    editions of popular dictionaries; and then we will lack a concise way to
    describe "special pleading" of this sort. I think it's unlikely though.

    Yours, Lulu...

    --
    mertz@ _/_/_/_/_/_/_/ THIS MESSAGE WAS BROUGHT TO YOU BY:_/_/_/_/ v i
    gnosis _/_/ Postmodern Enterprises _/_/ s r
    ..cx _/_/ MAKERS OF CHAOS.... _/_/ i u
    _/_/_/_/_/ LOOK FOR IT IN A NEIGHBORHOOD NEAR YOU_/_/_/_/_/ g s
    Lulu of the Lotus-Eaters, Sep 4, 2003
    #9
  10. Mike Henley

    Jeff Epler Guest

    On Wed, Sep 03, 2003 at 12:32:19AM -0400, Lulu of the Lotus-Eaters wrote:
    > Yeah... and perhaps the word 'disingenuous' will be removed from future
    > editions of popular dictionaries; and then we will lack a concise way to
    > describe "special pleading" of this sort. I think it's unlikely though.


    Hey, big fella. I'm on your side. I was just playing devil's advocate
    for a moment.

    Jeff
    Jeff Epler, Sep 5, 2003
    #10
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