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For the record:


To quote:

    Update: For the last few months, Asana has moved from 
    writing Lunascript for our application code to Javascript. 
    The two main things that were slowing down our development:
    too much remaining research-level work to make the compiler 
    output more performant code
    lack of tool support

    We're *not* a framework company, so we didn't want to devote 
    years to this work at the expense of building our product. We're 
    still using the framework primitives we developed for the 
    language -- most importantly, systems for reactively recomputing     
    our UI and synchronizing changes with the server -- we're just no 
    longer using the slightly nicer syntax (and functional style) 
    that Lunascript provided.

    Long term, we may revive the Lunascript compiler. We think this 
    may be especially appealing once we shift from focusing Asana as 
    a single product to Asana as a platform. But for the immediate 
    future, we're focused on releasing our first product at the 
    expense of continuing work on Lunascript proper.

Nice find. I think it Lunascript might the classical case of programmer naiveté: "I can re-invent the wheel so much better, and it will take not that much time". Usually is part of the process of maturing up as a programmer/engineer. Get the main stuff done (wow, this looks like a cool idea), but soon you are treading in deep waters as soon as the technology start hitting the edge cases, and day to day usability.

My self have started a couple of these overambitious projects, without realizing the amount of work it takes to get something in production level. Sure you can cover the base functionality pretty quickly, but it is the edge cases and polishing and making a robust solution that actually take the most time.

Sometimes these over-ambitious projects, succeed (Linux is the prime example), but usually they do because there is a huge need in the market for such product.

Perhaps Lunascript is something more 'interesting in paper, but not that great in practice'.

As much as I don't really like the "DSL" terminology for anything less than a true language with a parser and AST of its own, the advantage of the Ruby-esque "DSL"/library-with-carefully-chosen-name-conventions is that you are starting from the base of a known-working language. I have a "DSL" I wrote at work for decorating functions with various metadata and recurring bits of functionality like permissions checking in Perl for work, but because it's just not-really-even-glorified Perl I still have the full power of Perl to do things like programmatically generate these functions. Using a recurring set of decorations is as easy as sticking them in a bog-standard Perl array and just passing them as bog-standard arguments in the right place.

It's tempting to replace your language entirely and compile down to something else, but IMHO this sort of thing shows that's a very dangerous play that generally succeeds big or fails big, usually the latter. Incremental expansion of an existing language, even with something as powerful as a syntax preprocessor (that ideally compiles to results that are themselves manipulable language constructs like closures or simple values passed in an idiomatic way), is generally the way to go; most of the win, hardly any of the risk. Something like StratifiedJS or something, if I understand it properly, adding meaningful additional syntax without trying to be its own independent language: http://onilabs.com/stratifiedjs Or, from the sounds of it, the way this language ultimately went.

Javascript may not be quite as slick as Ruby, but, well, to be honest I think Ruby partisans really oversell the value of being able to drop a few parentheses out of your code, and while the block syntax may be nicer JS still has relatively decent closures.

> Sometimes these over-ambitious projects, succeed (Linux is the prime example), but usually they do because there is a huge need in the market for such product.

Linux was not that ambitious to start with. That's why it succeeded: while everyone else was waiting for Hurd or AT&T-free BSD, Linux was rapidly gaining momentum.

> I'm doing a (free) operating system (just a hobby, won't be big and professional like gnu)


This is the first time I've heard of Asana or Lunascript, but that sounds amazingly like the application server, language and framework I worked on at the previous company I was with.

Reactive / dataflow languages are just perfect for UI binding, and in data-intensive applications (think things like insurance quotes, finance) they can minimize the amount of kludgy UI update logic. The language I wrote was called Gravity (because it kept on sucking in responsibility), and compiled to .NET, which was very easy because it could just use Reflection.Emit and DynamicMethod.

With an in-process debugger I wrote, and the state storage mechanism it used (a bit like a Smalltalk image but with the code referred to via an intranet http URL, so it was really small, less than 60K usually), it had other powerful features, like migrating an app session from one machine to another (think of a helpdesk investigating a problem), playback of the entire application session (for testing or fault reproduction), or post-mortem investigation of the heap.

These kinds of features are very hard to get if you just take what a host language gives you and try and build a DSL on top of it. I understand why many people shy away from it, but the productivity advantages can be substantial, sustainable and strategic. The grammar and semantics of the Gravity language I developed for this were very similar to a subset of C#, except with more SQL-like null handling. That can minimize the learning and unfamiliarity overhead without losing a lot of that advantage. If I were doing a startup today, and it involved the same kinds of challenges, I'd still take a similar approach - and as a compiler engineer in my day job, I don't have illusions as to the depth of the technical problems around production-ready languages and tooling.

just updated that to explain that Luna is still core to our app, and working on an answer to "What is the Luna framework"

If you're still around: did you evaluate flapjax? And if so did you find it lacking, or just not a good fit for your needs? I'm curious about FRP, but don't have any experience with it.

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