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2 points by i4cu 2 days ago | link | parent | on: Using Arc in Production

> How useful would Arc be in a production system?

I've used it in production at multi-national organizations.

In fact that's how I learned to code. 10 years ago I was a business analyst who couldn't get the dev group to work on my projects in a timely fashion. The ability to use arc was in reach for me, even though I had no programming experience at all.

I actually wrote and released 2 internal apps and 1 external app that had good use (a few hundred users using it daily/weekly to get their jobs done). This was in production for a few years until I left in 2012. I'm pretty sure they're not using these apps anymore.

> What sorts of systems would it excel in and what sorts would it be unsuitable for?

I think its primary strength is the short learning curve. I also I think it's unsuitable for anything which needs to use existing db connections. Even though I did hacks to make that work it's the primary reason my apps could not be adopted by the dev group.

> What could be done to alleviate for Arc’s lack of features?

  * better db integration
Or if there's no interest in db integration then make it focused on compiling to js for mobile devices where db integration is less of an issue.

edit:

> In fact that's how I learned to code. 10 years ago...

lol, my first post on arc from 10 years ago:

http://arclanguage.org/item?id=8658

It's kind of ironic my first post was about a most recent topic[1]:

  "After playing for a bit I noticed my "set x" functions were 
  clobbering each other...so I started converting all my function to use 
  "let" statements."

 "why wouldn't the ARChitects of LISP or ARC make a set like 
  function that is global within a function ?
1. http://arclanguage.org/item?id=21187

Also, It's really embarrassing reading my old noobish questions/comments. I think we need to take this forum down and start a new one to preserve any sense of pride I could possibly have. :)

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2 points by jsgrahamus 1 day ago | link

Thanks for this, "Thaddeus".

Regarding db integration, I recently read a bit on Jarc (arc on Java - http://jarc.sourceforge.net/), and the author specifically added in that ability.

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3 points by akkartik 2 days ago | link

Wait, you're thaddeus?!

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2 points by i4cu 2 days ago | link

Yep... I thought you knew..

http://arclanguage.org/item?id=20276

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1 point by akkartik 1 day ago | link

Ah! Sorry, my memory's not so great these days.

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2 points by rocketnia 1 day ago | link

I totally forgot this too. XD

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3 points by i4cu 3 days ago | link | parent | on: Variables & scoping complaint

This definitely not great, but having to use 'with' is not the real issue for me. In fact if you read through the code you'll notice that this style is often used deliberately (i.e. some people might argue that it's a feature).

I think the bigger issue is that global vars can be used without any errors or conflict warnings. So someone else can create code which sets globals which then gets loaded via libs and will pollute your program. So you could have lib#1 set var 'x' only for it to get clobbered by lib#2's version of var 'x' and arc just ignores this. That's bad. Really bad.

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2 points by krapp 3 days ago | link

>So you could have lib#1 set var 'x' only for it to get clobbered by lib#2's version of var 'x' and arc just ignores this. That's bad. Really bad.

And how often is it intended behavior? How often does one want to have a macro parameter or apparently "local" variable overwrite an existing symbol globally and arbitrarily?

I can see it being useful in the case of "hot patching" code to just redefine a function, but that's still kind of crazy, since now the source code and running code are no longer the same. Might as well just edit the file and reload it, and have one source of truth.

It seems like an anti-feature. Something that seemed like a good idea in theory, but which in practice does more harm than good.

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2 points by akkartik 2 days ago | link

I'm not following the two of you on precisely what this anti-feature is. Assigning to local variables using '=' does not create new global variables. Can you share a code sample showing what you're talking about?

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1 point by i4cu 2 days ago | link

> Assigning to local variables using '=' does not create new global variables.

We're referring to the original posts problem where using = inside a function can redefine global variables:

  arc> (= data* '(green red)) 

  arc> (def my-fn () (= data* nil))
  #<procedure: my-fn>
  arc> (my-fn)
  nil
  arc> data*
  nil
Now my comment was referring a bigger problem that falls out of this 'feature' or 'anti-feature' (depending on your point of view).

assume you place this in html.arc

  (= data* '(blue red))

  ; (add-color 'purple)
  (def add-color (color)
    (push color data*))
    
Then I create apple tracker library 'lib/apples.arc' with:

  (= data* '(green red))

  ; (add-apple 'golden)
  (def add-apple (color)
    (push color data*))
Now at the top level of my progam:

  (load "lib/apples.arc")
  (load "lib/html.arc")
; now say the first apple in storage has gone brown:

  > (string (car data*) " has gone brown")

  "blue has gone brown"
say what? my blue apple has gone brown?

why is there no warning or error on loading my lib? That's pretty bad IMO.

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It's cool, but it's doing a new page request per interaction and the page load takes at least a second. It also has a looong painting operation. :(

This is where js would be handy - right? Personally I would just update the dom element and send a http post in the background.

I get that it's just a toy, but still it shows that languages* should have a good client side story too. Maybe some Lumen integration?

* that are for the web.

edit: reminds me of the million dollar homepage http://www.milliondollarhomepage.com/

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3 points by krapp 13 days ago | link

>This is where js would be handy - right? Personally I would just update the dom element and send a http post in the background.

If it's to be done in JS, might as well implement a drawing tool in an actual canvas element.

I've seen tutorials that are reasonably simple. The complicated part would be actually saving it. It is possible to export a canvas as a png and upload it with an AJAX request but I don't know how cross-browser compatible that is.

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2 points by shawn 13 days ago | link

We tried. It was almost a disaster.

We started out by making an EventSource endpoint and using JS EventSource object to get updates. Seemed to work great.

Pushed it live.

To everyone on the site. Not just to the people on /l/place. Oops. Mistake #1.

Mistake #2: I was aware that Arc kills threads that take longer than 30 seconds, but I was unaware that EventSource automatically tries to reconnect. Welcome to the DoS party.

With no way to tell the clients to stop. Mistake #3.

It was only live for about 10 minutes, but it took around two hours before the last few clients finally refreshed their browser and stopped DoSing the endpoint. The server absorbed the extra traffic like a champ, but the server logs were ridiculous for about an hour. Lots of "client took too long" error messages spit out by Arc every second.

Sooo yeah, submitting changes via JS is easy. Getting updates is the hard part.

Could poll. But then that's still hammering the server. Moreso than it already is.

It's probably a feature that it's painful to use. Only the determined will use it for art.

That said, if anyone has ideas for how to tweak arc for performance for this scenario – and remember to calculate how much memory is used by how many simultaneous sockets are open – I'd be willing to try again.

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3 points by i4cu 13 days ago | link

Reads like a really good horror story :)

> I was aware that Arc kills threads that take longer than 30 seconds...

> Sooo yeah, submitting changes via JS is easy. Getting updates is the hard part.

That's why I suggested a post request...

Just deliver the page and create an api end point, on the server, that gives you the last x changes from the change log.

With that ajax request, you could return these net updates for the client and use client side js to apply them to the dom. You could even create a trivial js debounce[1] algo to throttle requests if you wanted to go even further.

1. 'debounce' for those who don't know -> https://davidwalsh.name/javascript-debounce-function Only I'm suggesting it as a way to throttle ajax reqs.

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3 points by shawn 11 days ago | link

Yeah, it was worth the effort to make the drawing code client side. Someone showed up and made a software rasterizer.

Timelapse: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G0sG08jKCTI

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2 points by krapp 9 days ago | link

why not go all the way and render client-side in a canvas as well?

As it is, the more "pixels" you have, the slower the page loads. You could probably have just a single canvas and a single event handler.

You could preserve functionality for non-js users by using an imagemap (assuming browsers still even support those) or sticking the existing code in noscript tags.

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2 points by krapp 8 days ago | link

OK... I don't know where I got "single event handler from," that obviously wouldn't be true, but it would still be simpler than having each pixel be a separate HTML form....

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1 point by shawn 8 days ago | link

Wanna hop into discord and we can chat about the design? https://discord.gg/qaqkc9z

The repo's open, and I could help get you set up with it if you wanted to work on some of this. https://github.com/laarc/laarc

It should be a matter of:

  git clone https://github.com/laarc/laarc
  cd laarc
  make
  rlwrap bin/arc
  ((load "news.arc"))
and then http://localhost:8080/place

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2 points by krapp 8 days ago | link

Let me actually see if I can come up with a POC first, at least for the canvas and javascript. Realistically, since it's just GET requests that don't need authentication, I shouldn't even need laarc running, I can just send the same requests by AJAX.

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2 points by shawn 8 days ago | link

https://www.laarc.io/place.json is the API, by the way! I should probably mention that somewhere.

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2 points by shawn 12 days ago | link

Kay, it's all client side now. Have fun!

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3 points by i4cu 12 days ago | link

Much better.

I will say; I did a page reload and noticed the color pick was still in place and had to go hunt for the x. I expected it to reset, but I'm not sure if you see that as a bug or a feature :)

also, it looks like the client side is pure js... Is Lumen not up to that task? just curious if you tried that as it might be nice if, someday, we could get to the point where this kind of stuff could be done in arc.

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3 points by shawn 11 days ago | link

Thanks for mentioning that. It's a bug.

The trick to clear the x is to scroll up and click on the color palette.

Here's a timelapse for the curious. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G0sG08jKCTI

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2 points by i4cu 15 days ago | link | parent | on: Show Arc: seamless interop with racket

This is awesome. :)

> If you want to switch back to arc, you can use (%do ...)

Personally I would prefer '.arc' or '%arc':

  arc> (begin (require racket) (.arc (+ "foo" 42)))

  "foo42"
Yeah it's one more char, but I think it makes the code more explicit, understandable and also extendable (i.e. '.racket' also becomes an option too - not that it's needed).

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2 points by krapp 15 days ago | link

>(i.e. '.racket' also becomes an option too - not that it's needed).

.arc / .racket (or .rkt) seems more intuitive than .arc / $

We could also keep the dollar sign in both cases, which I prefer aesthetically, because being familiar with javascript and C type languages, seeing a dot alone like that just seems weird.

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3 points by i4cu 15 days ago | link

yeah but the dot reads to me like a file extension so I immediately get it.

$arc would be ok too. I can get behind that :)

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2 points by shawn 15 days ago | link

Good point! (%arc ...) and (%rkt ...) already work, actually. (I couldn't decide between %arc vs %do and %rkt vs %scm)

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Are you suggesting a custom internal db?

Otherwise hitching the code to a third-party db, as a requirement, would really limit what could be done with the language and would create all kinds of problems. You would be locked into the db platform as a hardened limitation. You would inherit the complexity of external forces (i.e. what if some other app deletes or messes with the db). What about securing the access/ports on the db.. etc..

It's always possible, but I think you would have to implement something internal where you can properly isolate and fully support all platforms the language does.

Seems likes namespaces would solve these problems the right way.

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3 points by krapp 16 days ago | link

> Are suggesting a custom internal db?

Yes. Currently, the options we have for stateful data are file I/O, which doesn't work perfectly, or tables that can lose their state if the file they're in gets reloaded. I'm suggesting something like Redis or APC, but implemented in Arc at the language level, to separate that state from the source code.

I was also thinking (in vague, "sketch on the back of a coffee-stained napkin" detail) that it could also be used to flag variables for mutability and for namespacing. In that if you added "x" from foo.arc it would automatically be namespaced by filename and accessible elsewhere as "foo!x",so it wouldn't conflict with "x" in bar.arc.

>Otherwise hitching the code to a third-party db, as a requirement, would really limit what could be done with the language and would create all kinds of problems.

Yeah, but to be fair, Arc is already hitched to Racket, which appears to support SQL and SQLite, so maybe third party wrappers for that wouldn't be a bad idea as well... sometime in the future when things are organized enough that we can have a robust third party ecosystem.

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2 points by i4cu 16 days ago | link

> Arc is already hitched to Racket, which appears to support SQL and SQLite...

Well racket supports SQL and SQL lite as an option, but racket can also run on platforms that don't support them so it's not 'hitched'. i.e. compiling to run on micro-controllers, mobile devices etc.

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2 points by i4cu 20 days ago | link | parent | on: Hacker News API not well designed

Personally I thought this was awesome (It was referenced in one of the comments within the HN post):

https://hnpwa.com/

HN has become the modern day 'todo' dev requirement.

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2 points by krapp 20 days ago | link

I actually started and abandoned unfinished a Hacker News clone in Hack a while ago, and a client has always been vaguely on my todo list.

I wonder how many HN users have projects like that sitting somewhere.

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2 points by kinnard 20 days ago | link

I have one. I plan on plowing through it soon.

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2 points by i4cu 20 days ago | link | parent | on: Hacker News API not well designed

HN has been a huge success story in my eyes. It's been in operational/maintenance mode for a decade and loaded with high traffic use.

Personally, I think getting worked up over the API is just absurd. It has served its purpose well.

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1 point by kinnard 20 days ago | link

Apparently they mean to change that:

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=19058455

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1 point by i4cu 20 days ago | link

Continuous improvement is always a good thing.

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Personally, I don't think this is going to make the language more attractive. You've traded better printing for more verbose code.

  current-arc> (obj name "John Doe" age 23 id 73881)

  your-arc> (ob (v name "John Doe") (v age 23) (v id 73881))
maybe?:

  alt-arc> (ob name "John Doe" age 23 id 73881)
returns (Assuming you're attempting to have ordered tables?):

  (ob (v name "John Doe") (v age 23) (v id 73881))

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2 points by rocketnia 23 days ago | link

(I hope you don't mind if I change my mind and use `object` instead of `ob`. I just remembered `ob` is a pretty good local variable name for object values.)

Code could still use `obj`, even in the reader. These two things could be parsed as the same value:

  (##obj name "John Doe" age 23 id 73881)
  (##object (v name "John Doe") (v age 23) (v id 73881))
The reason I suggest interspersing extra brackets and v's, when the concise `obj` already exists, is to avoid idiosyncrasies of pretty-printing `obj` for larger examples.

Here's an example of how a nested table prints in the latest Anarki:

  arc> coerce*
  '#hash((bytes . #hash((string . #<procedure:...ne/anarki/ac.rkt:1128:21>)))
         (char
          .
          #hash((int . #<procedure:integer->char>)
                (num . #<procedure:...ne/anarki/ac.rkt:1133:21>)))
         (cons
          .
          #hash((queue . #<procedure:...t/private/kw.rkt:592:14>)
                (string . #<procedure:...ne/anarki/ac.rkt:1127:21>)
                (sym . #<procedure:...t/private/kw.rkt:592:14>)
                (table . #<procedure:...t/private/kw.rkt:592:14>)))
         (fn
  ...
As a human who can easily apply idiosyncratic rules, here's how I'd probably lay that out if I could only use (##obj ...):

  arc> coerce*
  '(##obj
     
     bytes (##obj string #<procedure:...ne/anarki/ac.rkt:1128:21>)
     
     char
     (##obj
       int #<procedure:integer->char>
       num #<procedure:...ne/anarki/ac.rkt:1133:21>)
     
     cons
     (##obj
       queue #<procedure:...t/private/kw.rkt:592:14>
       string #<procedure:...ne/anarki/ac.rkt:1127:21>
       sym #<procedure:...t/private/kw.rkt:592:14>
       table #<procedure:...t/private/kw.rkt:592:14>)
     
     fn
  ...
There are several idiosyncrasies in action there: I'm choosing not to indent values by the length of their keys, I'm choosing not to indent them further than their keys at all (or vice versa), I am grouping them on the same line when I can, and I'm putting in padding lines between every entry just because some of the keys and values are on separate lines.

Oh, and I'm not indenting things by the length of the "##obj" operation itself, just by two spaces in every case, but that's a more general rule I go by.

As far as Lisp code in general is concerned, those seem like personal preferences. I don't expect anyone to indent this quite the same way. Maybe people could take a shot at it and see if a consensus emerges here. :)

Now suppose I could only use `##object`:

  arc> coerce*
  '(##object
     (v bytes (##object (v string #<procedure:...ne/anarki/ac.rkt:1128:21>)))
     (v char
       (##object
         (v int #<procedure:integer->char>)
         (v num #<procedure:...ne/anarki/ac.rkt:1133:21>)))
     (v cons
       (##object
         (v queue #<procedure:...t/private/kw.rkt:592:14>)
         (v string #<procedure:...ne/anarki/ac.rkt:1127:21>)
         (v sym #<procedure:...t/private/kw.rkt:592:14>)
         (v table #<procedure:...t/private/kw.rkt:592:14>)))
     (v fn
  ...
This saves some lines by not needing whitespace to group keys with their objects. In even larger examples it can cost some lines since it introduces twice as much indentation at every level, so that might be a wash. What really makes a difference here is that all those pairs of parentheses can be pretty-printed just like function calls, so things that process the "##object" syntax don't need to make special considerations for pretty-printing it.

---

"Assuming you're attempting to have ordered tables"

In this thread, the original post's example used unordered tables. It doesn't matter to this design. Ordered tables and unordered tables can coexist with different ## names.

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> should give a syntax error...

I don't agree. quoting a list is a way to protect the expression from evaluation, in this case because round brackets normally indicate an expression that needs to be called. A table literal {...} doesn't need protection from evaluation as a callable expression as it's just data and like any other data it should evaluate to itself. And, frankly, it would really suck having to protect that data everywhere in my code because someone wants a really nuanced use case to work.

Really what should happen is that [] should be implemented such that we don't need to protect lists of data.

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2 points by i4cu 24 days ago | link

> Really what should happen is that [] should be implemented such that we don't need to protect lists of data.

I should point out that I don't think this can happen since square brackets are reserved for other uses in Arc.

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2 points by rain1 24 days ago | link

I see what you mean, making it self evaluate seems like the best option.

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4 points by i4cu 25 days ago | link | parent | on: Racket-On-Chez Status: January 2019

Also posted on HN: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=19027400

I wonder what impact if any this might have on Arc. There are some noted compatibility differences between Racket versions:

  * no single-precision or extended-precision flonums;

  * some differences in the FFI related to memory management and blocking functions; and

  * no support for Racket’s C API.

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