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I think this is a story that gets repeated lots of times in our world of open source software dev.

1. X is SO bloated and poorly engineered full of bad legacy decisions.

2. We can totally do better let's invent a new thing, Y!

3. Wow, Y is so clean and fast and understandable.

4. But it doesn't do this thing a bunch of people reasonably really need... let's add it.

(repeat 3 and 4 a few hundred times)

5. Y is so bloated and poorly engineered and full of legacy decisions. We can do better! (Go to 1.)

The grass is always greener, but mature complicated software is _usually_ complicated for... reasons.

Not everything that gets added is stuff that people reasonably need, either. If you cater to everyone's needs, then you'll end up with 10 solutions for the same problem, because every one of your users has their preferred one.

I think Javascript suffers from this quite a bit. ES6 "classes" should never have made it in, for example. Not only did they add an extra level of abstraction for beginners to learn, but the only reason for doing so was "my code doesn't look like it does in other languages"...

> but the only reason for doing so was "my code doesn't look like it does in other languages"...

As much as I beat the FP drum these days at work, I find the class syntax a much nicer way of organizing solutions to certain, pardon the pun, classes of problems.

Whether or not you find this to be semantic diabetes is a matter of taste, I suppose. I'm curious what, specifically, you find to be the major issue that makes you say they should have been left out.

There's very few things JS classes can do that ES6 modules/named exports along with closures returning plain objects can't do better, in term of code organization, isolation, and extensibility. For the 6 times a year where I need an actual class (it does happen!), I can write the prototype code.

The main issue with adding classes is that they're very, very complex if you want to make them useful. The initial version was pretty harmless, but it was also almost pointless. Now they need to back fill all of the missing features (eg: private fields), which brings in an enormous amount of complexity. Most of the time, if I need private fields, I can just use symbols (not quite private, but close), or I can do

function() { let private = 123; return { // use private in functions here } }

It adds (there ARE things classes are better add) very little compared to the insane amount of work that has to be put in the language to get it all working. Decorators are in a similar boat, where many decorator usages can be expressed just as easily with a higher order function, so adding the extra syntax is just bloat.

The cost isn't worth the reward.

The biggest thing classes give us that is very difficult to replace in vanilla javascript is a semantic construct that is easy to statically analyzed. In the typed flavors (Flow, TypeScript), I can analyze the interface of plain objects, but not in vanilla JS. Part of why React using ES6 classes can be useful.

Thats a great benefit, but Im not sure it's worth the trouble.

> There's very few things JS classes can do that ES6 modules/named exports along with closures returning plain objects can't do better

That's a really good point. I was about to disagree with you but then I created a thought experiment.

Thought Experiment:

I wonder what the JS landscape would look like if ES6 Modules were introduced as part of ES5 about 8 years ago? I could definitely see how that would make classes fare less appealing if we already had a great module system (sure CJS existed but browser didn't support it).

Looking at the timeline of when these features were implemented in all major browsers:

* ES6 Class[0]: implemented 2.5 years ago * ES6 Modules[1]: implemented 1 month ago

[0]: https://caniuse.com/#feat=es6-class [1]: https://caniuse.com/#feat=es6-module

And ES6 classes were designed long before they were implemented, around the time people were making class hierarchies with backbone and AMD modules were the future.

The rise of Java and the OOP revolution isn't that far behind us (2 decades seems like a lot in the tech world, but its still within a single generation of humans).

>In the typed flavors (Flow, TypeScript), I can analyze the interface of plain objects, but not in vanilla JS.

I've found that developing JavaScript in an IDE that reads and validates type information from JSDoc allows me to introduce strong typing while maintaining the flexibility and simplicity of vanilla JavaScript without getting as bogged down as I get with Typescript.

For sure, though my comment referred more to analysing code for things like automatic transformations at scale (like codemods) than during development. Like, figuring out that a stateless function component is a component is hard.

You can do almost everything with jsdoc comments in flow and TS, of course. It's awesome.

ES6 classes were such a relief compared to the prototype bloat you had to right. I love syntactic sugar that makes my life easier.

ES6+ flavors of JS & Typescript really made me take web programming seriously again.

I loved the classes at first, but as I've got more in to it I've found that classes and prototypes are redundant. Closures let me maintain all of the state that I need without the extra boilerplate.

Or, you know, you could actually learn the language you use. Prototypes are not nearly as bloated as classes, and you usually don't even need them. OO is not the one true paradigm of coding.

Agreed, classes with typescript and Vue make sense to me in a SFC approach.

Something about components just fits the class model well.

also agree, would not go back. TypeScript is savage

> I think Javascript suffers from this quite a bit. ES6 "classes" should never have made it in, for example.

Well, I'm really happy that the class-statement got in ES6 though.

Before that, whenever I needed something class-like, I had to search how do you do this in Javascript, and find five different answers, no but really which is the proper one for prototype-based inheritance, waste an hour (or more) and frankly I still don't know, there's just so many ways you can do it, which is the RIGHT one? and Javascript wraps in on itself in so many cool ways, but there were never any definitive answers, just more rabbit holes.

Now, there is the class-statement, and it's one less rabbit hole to get trapped in. I actually get more stuff done now that there is one right way to define a class, or class-like object with a constructor, properties, methods, etc.

Similar thing goes for the function arrow notation. Javascript, and the event-based environments it usually operates in, wants you to use anonymous functions a lot. But the relatively verbose way to define them, still held me back from using them freely as much as I wanted, trying to "optimize" them away if possible.

Yea, I don't use the 'class' keyword in ES6 at all (but then I keep to a fairly functional style in my JS). Modules and lambdas are the killer features in ES6 as far as I'm concerned.

Yes, because the loop never solves the original problem. It's about organization and bloat, not pure speed and leanness.

Rebuild from scratch but also recreate all the existing functionality in a much better standard library and finally the chain can be broken. But nobody wants to do that.

I believe this is what Microsoft is trying to do with .NET Core. It's been successful so far, though they aren't at feature parity yet.

Yes, arguably the .NET Framework almost did it and is still one of the most productive frameworks available, but .NET Core has definitely improved things substantially. It's fast, well-designed, and full-featured and I expect usage to pick up greatly.

What I don't like in Microsoft's frameworks is that they've made lots of things multiple times in slightly different variations, like they always do with all their software (10 variations of each type of programs which were outdated before they were finished). Mostly it exists due to historical reasons, but it only underlines the problem of a multi-billion corporation having design skills of a sophomore. They redo and redo things, bloating their frameworks and increasing their number and you have to guess which CookieContainer you should use this time. It makes me understand why language designers like Rust developers insist on a small core library. Because it's better to have one separate library that will do everything regarding Cookie management (and you could control its functionality by including additional traits from it), than to have incompatible variations of it in the standard library and in each framework.

Android Frameworks will make you love .NET variations.

So far the package manager hell has been kept in check because they keep re-doing everything in such a way that you don't intermingle it. So when you're on MVC5 you're on MVC5, and when you're on AspNetCore, you're on that. You're not using 5 of library x and 6 of libarary Y. Likewise the startup and DI stuff has all fully rebooted twice in a few years. But nonetheless, some of that sort of package hell has already seeped in, where you're using different packages that depend on different versions of some underlying thing with breaking changes. I think the choices are either keep rebooting everything or stop making new stuff.

Yes, but it's rapidly getting better with .NET Standard combining all the libraries into a single definition that can be used on any framework implementation.

MVC5 was never released though, and the changes have been rather minimal from ASP.NET Core v1 to v2 with straightforward migration guides, so it might look messier than it actually is if you were working through all the previews and release candidates instead.

Nevertheless, Microsoft has a long history of having messy v1.0 with most of the stability coming after v2.0, so you can consider the foundation pretty stable now that it's on v2.1 and more.

Can I use F# with it? Because I would love to learn me some F# some day.

F# with .NET Core? Yes, it works fine.

There are some challenges coming up with design changes to the compiler and C# that might overlap what F# already has but it'll get sorted out.

.net core F# support has been pretty great from the initial stages of .net core from my basic usage. Biggest challenge seemed to be around type providers (F# system of generating strongly typed classes from dynamic data such as XML, CSVs, HTTP etc) but that's largely resolved. More info at https://github.com/fsprojects/FSharp.TypeProviders.SDK

Great resources for getting started with F# at https://fsharp.org/

My personal preference is generally to install the SDK and use the http://ionide.io/ with VScode as it seems to work most reliably cross platform.

I'd be very much interested how anyone is using F# on Linux without mono.

I have .NET Core but the whole thing seems to require Mono and it isn't clear from fsharp.org that you can do without.

C# is very verbose and tedious compared to more expressive languages - having to deal with CLR types/API at runtime while using a language with very limited expressiveness (C#) is not very productive. It's better than Java if that's what you're aiming at - but JVM has an incredible ecosystem of stuff that works - much larger than .NET core which is not very mature in many areas (recently had to revert to .NET 4.7 because some encryption method used by a government SOAP service we were talking to wasn't supported).

TypeScript and JS underneath is actually quite malleable - you can escape static typing at any point and revert to simple JS object model when things don't map cleanly in the type system - and then still have types at the boundaries - makes meta-programming trivial in some cases - where it would look like a monstrosity in C#.

F# is interesting and has a lot of advantages over C#, but few people seem to be willing to invest the time to pick it up in the .NET community.

So I don't really view .NET core as a superior alternative, I've worked in JVM land, they are more mature and while Java sucks there are other languages on top of it as well and are decent to use (Kotlin ~ C#, Scala ~ F#)

> using a language with _very_ limited expressiveness (C#) is not very productive.

o_0. Think you need to check yourself mate.

I believe the productiveness of more "expressive" language tends to be undermined by the loss of productivity that occurs when you're compelled to write blog posts or comment on hacker news about how amazingly productive and expressive your language is.

I can do like 3-4 hours of productive work a day realistically - after that I lose focus. I can push this in some periods - but that's the ammount of time I limit myself to be functional over long term.

If I need to waste that time sifting trough boilerplate than I'm pretty upset because I get less shit done in that time window.

Chatting on forums is a casual brain teaser and keeping up to date on industry stuff.

I don't think "expressiveness" or "boilerplate" are the things that slow me down. I use Go, and I find that it is both expressive and a little verbose, but it's still very simple and there's usually one clear way to do things, so I find that I can move a fair bit faster than I can in C# _or_ Haskell (in the latter case, it might just be that Haskell has a huge learning curve and I'm nowhere near over it).

I would suggest using more personal language when expressing personal opinion and toning down the force (very).

> [I find that] using a language with limited expressiveness (C#) is not very productive for me.

Like, I'd figure you can be mad productive in any language (even COBOL?) although I'm only completely cosy in a couple. There's no need to be so dismissive of the tools that others use.

...as if we wouldn't be writing comments on HN anyway. ;-)

Yes Typescript (also from Microsoft) is fascinating and fantastic at combining the strengths of static typing while still maintaining all the flexibility of dynamic types if necessary, however it's pretty much the only realistic non-academic of such a thing, so basically everything else is pales in comparison if that's what you're looking for.

Why is C# not expressive? It has the DLR and `dynamic` keyword which behaves just like JS typing if that's what you want, because it seems like your issue is really with static typing in general. Functional languages are nice but it seems C# with functional its slowly and carefully integrated functional extensions is actually more productive for most developers.

Dynamic doesn't behave the same as JS typing, you're still using CLR object model and typing rules, you're just losing compile time checks - it gets complicated really fast if you want to do meta programming even with DLR and it's not really ergonomic in C# (like casting/boxing primitive types, etc.)

Think about AutoMapper and then compare it to a TS solution using spread operator. How much boilerplate automapper crap do you see in your typical enterprise C# project ?

And that's not even touching on functional features, like you can't even have top level functions in C#, it's "one class per file dogma" + multiple wasted boilperplate lines and scrolling. I recently rewrote a C# program to F# - didn't even modify much in terms of semantics (OK having discriminated unions and pattern matching was a huge win in one case), just by using higher level operators and grouping stuff - line count went down to 1/3 and was grouped in to logical modules. I could read one module as a unit and understand it in it's context instead of having to browse 20 definition files with random 5 line type definitions. I could achieve similar improvements by rewriting to TS or Python.

C# adds overhead all over the place, people are just so used to it they don't even see it as useless overhead but as inherent problems they need solve - like how many of the popular enterprise patterns are workarounds around language limitations ?

When I bring this up people just assume I'm lazy about writing code - but I don't really care about writing the code out - tools mostly generate the boilerplate anyway. Having to read trough that noise is such productivity drain because instead of focusing on the issue at hand I'm focusing on filtering out the bloat from the codebase.

This sounds like a personal preference for dynamic vs strongly typed.

I could rewrite your entire comment in reverse about how I find C# highly expressive and readable while dynamic languages or Kotlin (blech) are a mess of inconsistent whack-a-doodle experimentation.

But my opinion is useless.

The value in any platform is productivity and if any given team can be productive, it doesn't matter if it's COBOL, RPG-3, Pascal, BASIC, or a functional language like F# or plain old JavaScript.

Actually I like static typing, I mentioned I rewrote a project in F# in like 1/3 of the code from C# solution.

It's more that C# is static typing done poorly IMO - a relatively limited type system that adds overhead compared to dynamic languages or more expressive static languages.

I'm having a hard time understanding what's fascinating about typescript.

I agree it makes JS better. I agree it's a good tool for its purpose.

But "fascinating" ?

It's hardly the most elegant scripting language down there (Ruby, Python, Kotlin and Dart doesn't have to live with the JS legacy cruft).

It has a very small ecosystem outside of the web.

The syntax is quite verbose for scripting.

It has very few data structures (and an all-in-one one).

Very poor stdlib.

Still inherits of important JS warts like a schizophrenic "this".

Almost no runtime support if you don't transpile it (which means hard to debug and need specific tooling to build).

And it's by no mean the only scripting language having good support for typing (e.g: VSCode has great support for Python, including intellisens and type checking).

What's so fascinating about ?

What's fascinates me is that we are still stuck with a monopoly on JS for the most important platform in the world.

Typescript IS javascript, so of course it inherits all of its problems. The data structures and standard libraries are what you get from JS, nothing more. It's called a programming langauge but its more of an extension to JS with a powerful compiler.

The typing system is what is special though, especially in how seamless it is in adding strict types alongside pure dynamic objects, but also allowing you to choose pretty much anything in the middle of that spectrum depending on your definitions.

You can have a few strong-typed properties mixed with others in a generic type that inherits from something else but can only take a few certain shapes. It's unlikely you need all that in most programs but it's the fact that you can do it which makes it great. In fact, the Typescript type system is actually turing complete.

Perhaps this video on Typescript from Build 2018 would help: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hDACN-BGvI8

> Typescript IS javascript, so of course it inherits all of its problems. The data structures and standard libraries are what you get from JS, nothing more. It's called a programming langauge but its more of an extension to JS with a powerful compiler.

That's pretty much my point.

> he typing system is what is special though, especially in how seamless it is in adding strict types alongside pure dynamic objects, but also allowing you to choose pretty much anything in the middle of that spectrum depending on your definitions.

> You can have a few strong-typed properties mixed with others in a generic type that inherits from something else but can only take a few certain shapes. It's unlikely you need all that in most programs but it's the fact that you can do it which makes it great. In fact, the Typescript type system is actually turing complete.

Apparently you haven't read my comment because I clearly says it's not special. Others languages do it to.

> Perhaps this video on Typescript from Build 2018 would help: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hDACN-BGvI8

Perhaps this article would help: https://www.bernat.tech/the-state-of-type-hints-in-python/

I think Go does this for me for the most part

Go has been out for almost a decade and they’re still working on the package management story.

I’m super bullish on rust. I feel like it was designed with the right intentions.

Yep. There are some languages that start out trying to solve fundamental productivity issues in previous languages - some more than others.

I think we had a generation of ecosystems with Node, Ruby, Python, that tried to do solve the unapproachable systems around the Java/etc ecosystems and make them more open.

They succeeded, but the next generation seems to have been about solving the plethora of tools that came with those languages. Rust, Go, etc, having first-party tools are trying to improve upon that, and yes I think Rust is by far the best implementation I've seen.

I'm interested to see what the next generation is.

I love rust, but the standard libraries are nowhere near the same abstraction level of nodejs.

All services I've deployed built on rust pulls in a kitchen sink of deps.

Granted. I get a static binary as my end result, so maybe it's fine.

Rust is designed that way, to be fair. They expressly did not want to be batteries included like python is. The reasons are what they are and not particularly relevant to the conversation, but pulling in well designed third party crates is the point.

Speaking from a python user's perspective, the batteries included philosophy works great when you have a neutral implementation. Python does a good enough job, and provides extensibility in a way that I don't need to download a package to do basic things. On the other I have to spend hours trying to find a package in JS that just gets shit done. The third party package way is only required for ui parts because you don't want everything to look generic. But having a good standard library to do non user facing stuff is essential. That's why every node project ends up with a thousand dependencies. Because the language is not batteries included. There in JS there is no "one correct and obvious way to do everything" which makes doing basic programming painful.

Let alone G* when CLU had them in 1975, but lets not rush.

This was a really funny experience for me as a self-taught guy going in the other direction. I started with Node in my spare time, and when I finally got a professional coding job my first project involved Java and Maven. I was kind of dreading it due to Java's reputation as this big bloaty terrible enterprise language, but once I actually got started I was like, "Man, this type safety thing and opinionated build tool thing etc etc are really nice." By no means is it (or any language) perfect, but a lot of the criticism suddenly seemed really overblown.

Currently happening with JSON (instead of XML, instead of C0RBA) despite the brutality of ripping out comments to keep it simple. We now have json schema, soon jslt, json namespaces etc.

To be fair, it's not impossible for some improvement to occur in this process.

Exactly! "originally X was presented as a bloat-free alternative to 'enterprise languages'"

For awhile, "Burn the Diskpacks!" was a battle cry of the Squeak Smalltalk community. That sort of policy fights bloat, but leaves old users in the lurch. I think that we are now to the point where a language/environment can trim bloat while not abandoning old users. If the language has enough annotation, and has the infrastructure for powerful syntactic transformation tools, then basic library revisions can be accompanied by automated source rewriting tools. We were pretty close to it in Smalltalk, without the annotations.

This is why it's so important to have good leadership. For example, Linus Torvalds.

But we can learn from prior mistakes in each iteration and spring clean the software logic. I know it's a lot of effort to seemingly reinvent the wheel each time, but I like to think it does yield some benefit in terms of efficiency and cleaner logic.

Yes, but not all applications need that complexity either, so slim, simple tools are often really useful.

Which really isn't so bad. Y eventually goes corporate, and is still presumably better than X, having learned from its mistakes. But for those who hate the new bloat, along comes Z and the cycle repeats itself. Chicka Chicka Boom Boom.

How do you break the loop?

I think vi -> vim -> neovim shows a pretty good model.

Neovim is an effort to modernize and remove cruft from vim, so they get to keep all the good parts and throw out the backward compatibility. If it works out it can eventually replace vim, not to different to what vim did to vi.

I'd like to see similar stuff done to much of the GNU tools. Make for instance has to worry about backward compatibility and posix compliance that makes it hard to progress. As of today there have been about 12,000 attempts to replace it with something else and I find all of them inferior for one reason or another, they've all reinvented the wheel poorly. If someone had taken the fork and modernize approach we might have something better by now.

It doesn't even have to be a "hostile" fork. The same can be done by the developers of the existing tools.

Text editor and programming language are slightly different things, backward compatibility story is completely different.

Not when the text editor includes a programming language (Vimscript). And backwards compatibility of plugins is a big issue.

I don't think the loop is necessarily bad, it shows progress.

Think about Java, it solved a class of problems that C was unable to address (e.g. unsafe memory, native threads). Thus enabling a new class of programs. But the new class of programs created opportunities for new platforms to solve with the benefit of a clean slate and fresh design having learned from past successes and failures.

I'm increasingly sketical. Maybe we move ahead a few inches each cycle, but it's starting to look distressingly like each generation of programmers has to learn all the lessons that their greybeard predecessors learned the hard way. Then, when they acheived some level of enlightenment, the next batch of bright-eyed whippersnappers comes along to rinse and repeat.

There's a disturbingly low-level of historical knowledge passed along in programming. Some bits and pieces are encountered in a quality Computer Science curriculum, but usually in rarefied, theoretical form, and inevitably balkanized into drips and drabs as part of subject-oriented coursework.

It's interesting to place today's techs on the Java maturation timeline - each became what they thought they hated but realized may have existed for some necessary reasons.

New platforms bring exciting and meaningful evolution often at the cost of what techs like .net and Java have a few decade advantage in. It's also interesting to see what Java devs are innovating with themselves, Scala, Kotlin both have good things happening.

Maybe using one large, inter-syntax friendly world like JVM will help.

When experience is overlooked for youth, we relearn and reimplement the same libraries repeatedly in every new tech to feed some developers needs to build temples to their greatness.

Still, Fitzgeralds quote comes to mind... "So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past." and technology is held back by reinventing the wheel.

The biggest problem i see is the weird hole circa 2006 that arranges with Sun selling to Oracle, that kind of still-birthed Java as the next great language.

That hole I can credit as giving C# the advantage in that tight niche, and stilling the development of the JVM platform in general.

By the time that the rust on JVM improvements were dusted off, all initiative was lost. Java was playing catchup to the competition.

On the other hand, Oracle has probably developed Java further much more and kept Maxime around making it into Graal.

IBM gave up on the first counter proposal, Red-Hat and Google didn't bother to rescue Sun.

So we might even have been left with either Java 6 or being forced to port our applications.

As we're seeing with WhatsApp, guardianship and supporting the direction of a project isn't easy. I'm not sure where Java would have ended up if someone else took it.

Additionally Oracle haters seem to forget Oracle was one of the very first companies to get into bet with Sun regarding Java, with their whole Java based terminals idea and porting all their Oracle Database GUIs to Swing.

I don't think we have to.

Loop, as it might seem, doesn't mean there is no progress made in between.

I think you gotta have a good understanding of the domain and use cases you want to hit (which is really hard, especially so when it's a general purpose programming language whose domain is... everything), and design from the start with a vision of hitting those use cases, instead of having to shoe-horn them in later.

Of course, use cases will still evolve, and your initial understanding is always flawed, there's no magic bullet, designing general purpose software (or a language or platform!) meant to hit a wide swath of use cases flexibly is _hard_.

And then, yeah, like others have said, you need skilled, experienced, and strong leadership. You need someone (or a small group of people) who can say 'no' or 'not yet' or 'not like this' to features -- but also who can accurately assess what features _do_ need to be there to make the thing effective. And architects/designers who can design the lower levels of abstraction solidly to allow expected use cases to be built on top of them cleanly.

But yeah, no magic bullet, it's just _hard_.

As developer-consumers of software, we have to realize that _maturity_ is something to be valued, and a trade-off for immature but "clean" is not always the right trade-off -- and not to assume that the immature new shiny "clean" thing will _necessarily_ evolve to do everything you want and be able to stay that way. (On the other hand, just cause something is _old_ doesn't _always_ mean it's actually _mature_ or effective. Some old things do need to be put down). But resist "grass is always greener" evaluation that focuses on what you _don't_ like about the original thing (it's the pain points that come to our attention), forgetting to take into account what it is doing for you effectively.

Refactor and trim the bloat on the basic libraries, but have a policy where bulletproof automated source rewriting tools are provided in those cases. Perhaps this isn't possible with Javascript, but it might be possible with other languages.

If you think anyone has "bulletproof automated source rewriting tools" I've got a bridge to sell you.

If you think anyone has "bulletproof automated source rewriting tools" I've got a bridge to sell you.

I've used an excellent one. The Refactoring Browser parser engine in Smalltalk. I've used it to eliminate 2500 of 5000 lambdas used in an in-house ORM with zero errors -- all in a single change request. (Programmers were putting business logic into those lambdas.) Like any power tool, it's not stupid proof. However, it gives you the full syntactic descriptive power of the language. So if you can distinguish a code rewrite with 100% confidence according to syntactic rules, then you can automate that rewrite with 100% confidence.

Here's where it can go wrong: If your language is too large and complicated, there the probability you can run into a corner case that will trip you up. Also, it will always be possible for a given codebase to create something which is too hard to distinguish, even at runtime. (You can embed arbitrary code in a Refactoring Browser Rewrite transformation, so you can even make runtime determinations.)

"Bulletproof" isn't "invulnerable." A vest with an AR500 plate will stop certain bullets hitting you in certain places. It won't protect you from being stabbed in the eye or stepping on a landmine. Despite that, it is still a useful tool.

What's the bridge, how much, and is what everyone else is using and/or the next big thing?

You have strong leadership that makes good decisions.

Obligatory xkcd reference: https://xkcd.com/927/

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