REBOL based languages, the why and how and what to think of them?

This column I’ll write in English because of the international character of possible audience. Few people in Holland can have a say about this and I want to give those interested readers that already know about these languages to be able to reply to my article.

So, while some people are familiar with REBOL since the early days at the turn of the century, many of us only recently know about REBOL. REBOL is a really interesting computer language that features a syntax that almost equals spoken language. Like COBOL also is built around English, American language, MULTIPLY AMOUNT BY INTEREST-PERCENTAGE GIVING INTEREST-AMOUNT. , REBOL is also very similar to English. To get a good introduction to REBOL I have to send you to http://www.rebol.com (try also .net and .org) because that is not what this short column is about. This column is about REBOL like languages. Because REBOL is so different and a nice, welcome language besides the Camelcased full of dots and hard-to-type characters from all over your keyboard, the overly stuffed with libraries with countless overloaded functions (you cannot possibly overview) needing more libraries that need other libraries as well, evergrowing languages, like you know which ones…

 

While REBOL has the advantage that it works on almost every supported platform, REBOL has this disadvantage that it is closed source. That is if RT, REBOL TECHNOLOGIES, has developed a port for it. If you want another platform supported, you can ask them, maybe they will support it in future. Then there will be a REBOL interpreter for the platform. A virtual machine able to run REBOL scripts.  Well I hear you say. C# and Java are not exactly open source too, Java can run on every platform if there is a virtual machine built for the platform. No difference there.

 

Still, for some people, this is a reason to build an open source version of REBOL.

So there have been some in the past, forgive me if I have no complete overview. There once was ORCA. The development of ORCA stopped when the main developer had enough functionality he needed. And that is a good thing..  for him. But not for everybody else so new initiatives have sprung up.

I know of BORON, Red(/Script) (http://www.red-lang.org) and yesterday I learned about (http://www.world-lang.org) World. BORON is as far as I know the follow up on ORCA. It has a nice demo showing some 3D image-manipulation. That is about what I remember at this moment, feel free to tell us more in a comment, please.

Then there is Red. Red will remake the REBOL interpreter into a (Just-In-Time) compiler for rebol-scripts. Red uses the REBOL language and the REBOL interpreter to reach this goal. The initiative for Red came from Nenad Rakocevic, nicknamed DocKimbel, the developer of the Cheyenne server, the server that was written in REBOL. Red is trying to stay very close to REBOL, but this is no goal on a 100% basis. The number of contributors for Red is at least 3.

Next there is World. World just started last year by John Niclasen. Regarding the Github repostory development started mid 2011 and alpha release was in november. The approach of World is creating the REBOL language using the C language.  The number of contributors for World is at the moment of this writing still 1.

What is better for portability to other OSes? My guess is that the C approach will be easier to port. But I am no expert in porting software over and there are ARM ports available for Red (no REBOL on ARM afaik).

Both Red and World have a nice looking Blogger based website. Trouble with the blog approach is it is harder to find the information to get started. Both have a Github repository. I have not effectively used Github enough to say ‘I get it, it is easy’.

That’s what I can tell you right now. It would please me to see your comments and additions to this article.

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