Jock Cooper

I, Jock Cooper, do solemnly offer these my responses to The Road to Lisp Survey:

When did you first try Lisp (meaning here and throughout the survey "any member of the Lisp family") seriously, and which Lisp family member was it?

Around March 2001 I started playing with Common Lisp.

What led you to try Lisp?

My background was in Unix using mainly C and sometimes Perl. As my code got more complex, I was continually frustrated by C's lack of flexibility and expressiveness. Perl was a little nicer but ugly to write and read. So I started browsing newsgroups, to see what languages people were talking about, and what they were saying. I kept finding people who raved about Common Lisp, so I decided to take a look at it.

If you were trying Lisp out of unhappiness with another language, what was that other language and what did you not like about it, or what were you hoping to find different in Lisp?

I was always consolidating code in C, taking similar functions and combining them, trying to drive the behavior by passing in function pointers and flags etc. I also used to try to reuse code by using C macros -- but only simple ones were possible. Basic data structures required a lot of code. On the Perl side, once the code started to get complex, the emacs autoformatter started to get confused. With all the []'s ->'s and $$'s the code would get all sloppy looking. I wanted something with more power and elegance. CL was hard to 'get' at first. I couldn't read the code as quickly as I was used to, and the prefix notation took a little getting used to. But soon it clicked and I was hooked.

How far have you gotten in your study of Lisp? (I know, that is hard to measure) I have written some nice systems: a web based generic database editor, web based reporting system, LL parser, a few other things. For fun I wrote a CL program that works with UltraFractal to create Animated Fractals. I still consider myself somewhat of an 'advanced newbie'. After I had worked with CL for a few months I went to my boss and asked for a copy of ACL, which I got. I have been lucky to be paid to write Lisp for the past two years.

What do you think of Lisp so far? I love writing in Lisp, it made programming fun again. I use it whenever possible.

Switch Date 2001 RtL Greenspun's Tenth Seek and Ye Shall Find RtL Word of Mouth