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It's a fair point you make. Regarding semantic density, what you talk about is density maintenance at a single point, that is, the density of a single function. I'm not saying that APL is unique in that respect. I'm saying that APL seems uniquely well suited to remaining at the same semantic density throughout the entire code base, and that the semantic density found in APL code more readily, IME, handles the shifts in common versus uncommon concepts at the same density level than I have found in other languages.

You're right that you can change piecemeal, but without knowing your specific case, it's hard to say what you focused on integrating, and thus, whether you were just integrating the language or integrating a style.

If you're willing to talk more about this, feel free to email me, I would love to see more details of your experiences trying to integrate and get more details on your project. This is a part of my future research agenda, and so gathering information on what has worked and didn't work for you, and making an attempt to understand all of that in your case would be very valuable.

As for the issue with big migration, I absolutely agree that it makes it hard to study. However, that's where academic research can come in. I'm specifically taking a look and building a set of research studies to isolate specific factors related to the APL phenomenon and understanding their relevance and how they place a role in the HCI of programming languages and developer culture. There's almost no one doing these kinds of studies, so the main problem at this point is that we have anecdotes, but not a lot of large, well done studies to deal with the issues. I hope to change that.

As for working with customers, are you aware of any other large projects that directly involved customers in their programming? That actually expect their customers to read source code, when the customers are not programmers themselves? I'd be interested in seeing the results of such an effort in other languages, as the only places where I've seen this level of customer integration used for non-computer science/programmer type customers (that is, those with no programming background) is in APL.

I think a big problem with people trying to work with APL code is partly training. There is very little out there on how to do "good APL" code. You get trained all through your development career on how to work with traditional programming languages and what are considered best practices there, but it is not at all clear or obvious to me that the best practices that you learn are actually the right ones once you start moving far from the traditional programming language bent. I would include not only APL in this, but Prolog and Agda, for instance.

I would even go so far as to say that some best practices in other languages are anti-patterns in APL. If your team has made a concerted effort to avoid and educate developers to avoid anti-patterns in APL and they have actually worked at changing that aspect inside of your development team(s), I would be very interested to learn more about this. It's hard to find good case studies in this material in the wild, and so if you'd be willing to share some of yours, I'd be very interested in getting good data.

Please contact me by email (arcfide@sacrideo.us) if you would be willing to discuss further.




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