Critique my idea for a language
from to on 31 Jan 21:58

I’ve never felt the urge to make a PL until recently. I’ve been quite happy with a combination of Rust and Julia for most things, but after learning more about BEAM languages, LEAN4, Zig’s comptime, and some newer languages implementing algebraic effects, I think I at least have a compelling set of features I would like to see in a new language. All of these features are inspired by actual problems I have programming today.

I want to make a language that achieves the following (non-exhaustive):

I think with this feature set, we would have a pretty awesome language for working in data-driven systems, which seems to be increasingly common today.

One thing I can’t decide yet, mostly due to ignorance, is whether it’s worth it to implement algebraic effects or monads. I’m pretty convinced that effects, if done well, would be strictly better than monads, but I’m not sure how feasible it is to incorporate effects into a type system without requiring a lot of syntactical overhead. I’m hoping most effects can be inferred.

I’m also nervous that if I add too many static analysis features, compile times will suffer. It’s really important to me that compile times are productive.

Anyway, I’m just curious if anyone thinks this would be worth implementing. I know it’s totally unbaked, so it’s hard to say, but maybe it’s already possible to spot issues with the idea, or suggest improvements. Or maybe you already know of a language that solves all of these problems.

#programming_languages on 01 Feb 03:23 next collapse

I would like to use or at least try a language like this, especially if GC is optional. on 01 Feb 03:45 collapse

Yea I’m not sure exactly how much control of the GC would be possible, but having multiple options seems like a reasonable approach. Languages with RAII usually rely on scoping, reference counting, and arenas, so I would provide those in addition to a more “global” garbage collector. on 01 Feb 03:57 next collapse

Not to give you a definitive answer, but you’d probably be really interested in Vale.

It’s still early days, but there’s a lot of clever ideas that most languages can’t take advantage of that you’d probably be really interested in.

There’s only one core developer (who is currently on a temporary medical break), but there’s a lot of programming language theory discussion in the discord. on 02 Feb 04:30 collapse

@enneagram test I think the decision between algebraic effects and monads depends on the specific goals of your language and the trade-offs you are willing to make. Both have their strengths, and the choice may impact the language’s learning curve and expressiveness. on 02 Feb 07:47 collapse

My current understanding is that effects solve the composability problem of monads, but I’ve not been enthusiastic about the syntax I’ve seen in Koka or Unison.

There have been multiple times while writing Rust when I needed to use two different monads together and they didn’t quite have the API I needed to compose them. But I wouldn’t say it’s a core issue with the language, just a small inelegance.