Forum OpenACS Q&A: Re: Will Dr. OpenACS survive? Or why I stopped worrying and learned to love the .LRN consortium?

Jonathon is probably wise in wanting to avoid a 'TCL sucks/TCL's ok' thread. Ulimately though, we need to decide on a way forward and hearing peoples gripes makes it possible to estimate the biggest issues and needs.

XOTcl is not such a bad idea, but the key is deciding on an approach that best deals with our limitiations and un-attractiveness to developers and implementing it. If it's XOTcl, then we need to implement ACS object creation and manipulation as XOTcl objects, and make a new Object based wrapper on top of form builder.

Looking at some XOTcl docs, it does give us a lot of what we need:

  • Real class-based abstraction
  • Mixins (aka. interfaces in Java)
  • Object passing - which effectively deals with the lack of references and rich data structures in Tcl

If there were replacements for the core toolkit like forms, permissions & subsite, that accepted object passing, most developers would be saved from upvar without adding another language (although XOTcl could rightfully be called an additional language).

It's still unsexy however, and has no sizeable community. Which leads me to a question: by what criteria should we choose the way forward?

I think the sexiness requirement should be limited to the look & feel, while any developer environment choices should be guided by the following:

  • Practicability - what benefits it would provide
  • Pragmatism - how realistic it would be to implement in OpenACS
  • Profile - how big and prominent is the community surrounding the language/technology

IMO Object Orientation wins all of those critera against the alternatives. Whether XOTcl, Perl, Ruby or another language fits those criteria better than any other is a more complex question.

If nothing else, this thread makes clear that many are not happy with the status quo.