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Newbie seeks guiding hands.

From: Gary Benson
Subject: Newbie seeks guiding hands.
Date: Wed, 14 Mar 2001 17:20:12 +0000

Hi there,

I'm almost completely new to both Guile and Scheme but I think they
could be incredibly useful for a project I am involved in. I've got a
couple of questions, one quick and one not so quick.

The quick one: what is the difference between Scheme and Lisp?

The long one: I've written a desktop calculator called rcalc
( It's more along the lines of something
like bc than something like xcalc, but it differs from bc in that bc is
more of a math-oriented mini-language in itself whereas rcalc is aimed
at being solely a desktop calculator that someone can open, do some
calculations in and then close it and forget about it. bc has a very
rigid syntax which is great for something which is in essence a
programming language but a pain for interactive stuff.

End of background. Several people have requested that I add the ability
for users to define functions, but I've resisted this for a long time
because I didn't want to make rcalc a programming language. Recently,
however, I hit on the idea of using an extension language, and Guile
seems to be the leading contender.

The problem is that I haven't got a clue where to start! Firstly, my
experience with Scheme-like languages consists of mild Emacs
configuration and a minor hack to a Sawfish theme. I love the clean way
that Lisp & Scheme let you express things but so far I haven't managed
to get my head around it enough to actually make the paradigm shift from
my C, Perl and sh roots.

Secondly (and will probably resolve itself as I get more into Scheme), I
don't know where to make the split between the C and Guile parts. Do I
code each function as a separate scm file and do all the other stuff in
C or do I rewrite the calculation engine in Scheme? Applications that
get to the point of embedding Guile tend to be massive already, which
means that there is a hell of a lot of code to hunt through to find the
relevant bits. It would probably take me a week, working solidly, to
understand how something like Gnucash does its stuff. [rcalc, when
Guiled up, would probably make a nice example application for people who
are in my position =) ]

So what I really need is to be pointed in the right direction.


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