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Rebol's future (rebol.com)
89 points by deadwait on Sept 8, 2012 | hide | past | favorite | 16 comments

Why Rebol was never open-sourced I will never know. I guess Carl came from a different time and the non-Unix/non-academic world where software tools were sold at a high price.

Rebol has so many interesting ideas in it that it really could have carved a respectable niche in the world of networked programming languages. Just having sensible pragmatic built-in types for email and money was enough to bring it to my attention.

It's is a very odd but amazingly powerful little language worthy of study by anyone interested in language design. It has been a big influence on me even if I have never used it for anything 'real'.

The Red language[1] was created exactly for the reason that REBOL was never open-source.

Red looks like it's still in active development, and "heavily inspired by REBOL."


It may be the case that Red was created for the reason you state, but it simply doesn't appear to have the necessary momentum. And that's unfortunate, because REBOL does not have a lot of interesting and smart features, such as having mini-DSLs ("dialects") for things like GUIs.

To date, Red can't even run without already having REBOL installed on your system. The project has been around for almost two years now, and only a few days ago has it successfully been able to do the program "print 1".

Red was announced and started last year in March. It's basically 2 languages and until last month development was going towards compiled low-level dialect Red/System. I was actually impressed by speed of things moving in Red/System and many members of small REBOL community contributed to it. (It had GTK bindings, ZMQ, port to android, while it was still in development).

The announcement this week about "print 1" is about the fact that now the "Red" (higher, rebol-like level) language is also at the brink of working.

what really, really impressed me about rebol was its runtime. it seemed to achieve an almost magical combination of small, cross-platform and capable, bypassing the usual "pick any two". but even back in 1999, when i first came across it, i couldn't bring myself to invest in a closed-source language. i've been keeping an eye on it ever since, hoping it would go fully open, but it never happened.

wasn't the academic world one of the places where tools _were_ sold at a high price? I am thinking matlab, mathematica, derive etc.

Notice that those are tools which specialize in specific domains (e.g. linear algebra), not just a general purpose programming language. And those tools are even higher priced without the academic discount.

No one has ever built a significant business on a new general-purpose programming language. It doesn't seem to be due to the relative lack of IP protection on languages either. It may be that it's simply not a problem worth solving, there's no solution worth marrying a vendor over, or there are too many language designers.

If Carl had the presence of mind back in 1998 and open sourced enough of the Rebol eco system to be useful for web platform development, then /index.r rather than /index.php might have been one of the most popular default documents in the world.

As an aside, you can tell how interested (or not) Carl is in the future of Rebol by the fact that he's clearly not reading and responding to comments in that blog post. Otherwise he'd have cleaned up the spam comments that have been posted there days ago.

> If Carl had the presence of mind back in 1998 and open sourced enough of the Rebol eco system to be useful for web platform development, then /index.r rather than /index.php might have been one of the most popular default documents in the world.

Not only that, the price point is incredibly high at $249.00. I say this as a person who actually has a REBOL/Pro license. It was never clear to me what the business model for this product was, especially since the free version of REBOL was often more up-to-date and feature-complete than the paid product.

Carl Sassenrath is the designer of the original AmigaOS. Respect!

That's the main reason why I learned REBOL back in the day. I could build something on my Amiga and it would work the same no matter what platform.

This is probably why my history teacher was following it back when he told me about it. He was a huge fan of the Amiga and got me interested in platforms that weren't PC-compatible.

I now look back on my experience with REBOL as some of the most fun I have ever had programming. Ever.

I have immense respect for everyone involved.

Just Exec.

I found this in the comments to the blog post - Topaz, a REBOL inspired (but not compatible) language which compiles to javascript[1]. I found it worthy of it's own submission[2] with more info.

[1] http://www.colellachiara.com/soft/topaz/try-topaz.html

[2] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4492952

Carl probably shouldn't write blog posts drunk.

Non open source language and no huge company shoving it down people's throats (like MS/VB): people won't care. At best it will be a niche like Rebol.

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