Chad Perrin wrote:
> That's kind of a specious argument.  Similarly, one never really needs
> switch/case statements -- you could always do it with if/else.  In fact,
> you don't need if/else either -- you could just do it with a series of
> carefully crafted if statements.  If that ends up being too ugly for
> you, there's always the option of creating a block from which you use
> break statements (or equivalent for your language of choice) to
> approximate elses.
>
> . . . but it's awfully convenient to have else and, occasionally,
> switch/case statements.
>   
I can't remember the last time I used a case statement. It was probably 
in the mid 1970s in FORTRAN. And R programmers don't tend to use as many 
control structures as other language programmers do, favoring instead 
the built in vector logical and indexing operators.
>> But I already know Perl ... my original comment was that I needed to 
>> unlearn it to learn Ruby. It's mostly syntactic -- curly braces, 
>> semicolons, scalars beginning with dollar signs, etc. I *never* liked 
>> the Perl dollar sign/at sign/percent sign syntax convention.
>>     
>
> . . . and my point is that you shouldn't have to "unlearn Perl", and I
> find it shortsighted and narrow to make that kind of statement with any
> seriousness.
>   
No ... I don't have to unlearn the parts of Perl that are common to 
Ruby. I do have to unlearn putting semicolons at the end of every 
statement, using curly braces for blocks, using tabs for indentation 
instead of spaces, and starting an ordinary scalar working variable with 
a dollar sign. I have to unlearn taking a string like "3.56" to an 
integer power and getting a double precision value back. I have to 
unlearn "$a{'Sep'} = 3;" and replace it with "a['Sep'] = 3", etc.


> I don't see that happening.  I see Rails getting a lot of attention, and
> many people being attracted first to it then, by way of Rails, to Ruby
> in general.  Ultimately, people seem to be getting enamored with the
> language, with Rails as merely the "gateway drug".  The number of people
> I've run across who do one project in Rails, then go on to use Ruby
> without ever touching Rails again, outnumbers the people who come to
> Rails and don't continue to use Ruby for anything else.
>   
Well, I downloaded Rails ... I bought the book(s) ... I worked through 
half of the tutorial ... and decided I wasn't interested in building 
that kind of web application. And until David Black's book came along, 
there really was no sense at all I could make from Rails. I could take 
someone else's Rails code and edit it without breaking it too badly, 
re-implement something like the demo apps, etc., but I couldn't actually 
sit down, say, "I want my web application to do this, this, this and 
this ...", and then sit down and make it happen. I simply didn't have a 
reading knowledge of Ruby.

Now I think I could do that; I'm just waiting for an excuse to build a 
web app. Meanwhile, I'm building something else, and I'm building it in 
pure Ruby. And I'm doing it in pure Ruby against the advice of folks who 
think I should drop into C for the number crunching or use an existing 
number crunching library written in C.
> That's true, too.  I still don't like it -- and, in many cases, I think
> Java was chosen for those applications because of the excellent
> marketing Java has received, rather than because Java was the Right Tool
> For The Job.  Some of those applications might have been better written
> using other languages.  That doesn't mean they're bad apps, though.
>   
Well ... some of the Java applications I like are "Compendium", 
"DBDesigner4", Protege, the PEPA Workbench, the GUI wrapper on PRISM, 
and a couple of audio applications I haven't used in a while. In those 
cases, I think Java was chosen for its portability and for its 
convenient GUI. It's really being used as a "scripting language" in the 
case of PRISM ... the underlying application is in C for speed. The PEPA 
Workbench was originally written in ML, but I don't think the ML version 
had a GUI. All the rest are "pure Java".

They're all GUI applications, and I suspect the only alternative to Java 
would have been Tcl/Tk (or some other language with a Tk GUI) at the 
time these applications were conceived. There are more choices now -- 
everybody has a Tk GUI, nearly everybody has a GTK, QT, Fox, and wx GUI 
toolkit, and nearly everybody can do all this on Windows, Linux, Mac and 
Solaris. Does Java still run on a Mac?
> Yeah, even macro assembler.  I'll leave that work for someone else, for
> the time being: it's not my cup of tea.
>   
The macro assembler programmers I know drink coffee ... a lot of coffee. 
:) Do Ruby programmers drink Ruby Mist?