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Re: Perl vs Scheme vs ML vs ... for autoconf

From: Akim Demaille
Subject: Re: Perl vs Scheme vs ML vs ... for autoconf
Date: 10 Apr 2001 20:26:15 +0200
User-agent: Gnus/5.0808 (Gnus v5.8.8) XEmacs/21.1 (Cuyahoga Valley)

>>>>> "Paul" == Paul Eggert <address@hidden> writes:

>> All I'm looking for is a decent language for the driver, i.e.,
>> rewrite into something better than sh.

Paul> For that application, I'm not entirely convinced that it's worth
Paul> the hassle to switch.  But it's not a big deal, and if you think
Paul> something else would be better, it's fine with me.

I have been frightened by the number of problems we had with the
different AWKs and seds.  I'm tired of the need to rewrite everything
n times, n being the number of .sh in Autoconf.  Tim is fighting n
times with portability issues for DJGPP for things as simple as
sed-based basename, which is something coming for free with Perl.  I'm
expecting some performances improvements too, although probably not
very significant.  And finally, the possibility to share code with
Automake is not without appeal.

Also, there are some horrid hacks in autoheader to simulate hashes.  I
was quite proud of the result, but I am still a bit scared:

    /tmp % cat
    AC_DEFINE([PAUL], [EGGERT], [Define to his name.])
    /tmp % ahe -d -v
    autoheader: running /home/lrde/prof/akim/src/ace//autoconf -l . to trace 
    autoheader: sourcing /tmp/ah1467/
    autoheader: checking completeness of the template
    /tmp % cat /tmp/ah1467/
    : ${config_h="config.h"}
    syms="$syms PAUL"
=>  ac_verbatim_PAUL="\
    /* Define to his name. */
    #undef PAUL"

Paul> You might use it as an excuse to learn Scheme anyway, as it's
Paul> perhaps the most plausible replacement for m4.


Paul> A couple of years ago I taught a programming-languages class at
Paul> UCLA.  The first two languages I covered were M4 and Scheme.
Paul> There were interesting analogies between the two, though of
Paul> course Scheme is much more advanced.

Agreed.  I think I now `feel' significantly better functional
programming thanks to M4.

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