Hacker News new | comments | show | ask | jobs | submit login

Let's get this out of the way: Rust is great. Rust apologia like this article is not so great.

> As an aside, remember that the only difference to C/c++ is that if you write a “basic linked list” in them, all of your code will be unsafe.

There's a bit of mental gymnastics going on here. The word "unsafe" is performing double duty, since it means "memory safety not guaranteed by the compiler" in Rust and it means something else entirely when you are talking about C++, since memory safety was never guaranteed by the compiler in the first place. The other problem with this statement is that linked lists in C or C++ aren’t really that hard to get right, in fact, they’re easy. Maybe you draw out a diagram on pen and paper before you write the code, but you’re unlikely to be facing segfaults.

I admit I’m biased here, because I’ve been using Haskell for something like 15 years now, but I feel like the Haskell community acknowledges that Haskell’s type system gets in the way and prevents you from doing useful, interesting work, and that even a great library ecosystem isn’t enough to overcome this. That’s how safety generally works. It’s harder to write programs that do useful things, but in exchange, it’s also harder to write programs that behave unpredictably or do dangerous things. Because Rust and Haskell put you in such restrictive type systems, sometimes you have to break out to get real work done.

Haskell’s pitch, in my mind, is, “Let’s make it easy to reason about side effects and value semantics.” From the article, Rust’s pitch could be, “Let’s make it easy to reason about control- and data flow.” These are both evolutionary steps in the development of programming languages, all programming languages being somewhat flawed. Future languages will steal ideas from Rust the same way modern languages have stolen ideas from Haskell.

But apologia still leaves a bad taste in my mouth. The article says, “Is this a problem with Rust? Not at all.” There’s a worrying unwillingness to acknowledge that Rust is flawed, and the article describes Rust users as “Rustaceans” and makes broad generalizations about how they behave. This reminds me of the excesses of 2000s-era object-oriented programming. The comment about “Rust’s facilities for code reuse” could have been taken straight out of a press release for Java back in the late 1990s for all I know.

Rust is great, but this article is further cementing my distaste for the Rust community.

By comparison, here is Simon Peyton Jones talking about how Haskell is useless: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iSmkqocn0oQ




Applications are open for YC Winter 2019

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact

Search: