What killed Smalltalk could kill Python

Chris Angelico rosuav at gmail.com
Thu Jan 22 04:08:53 CET 2015

On Thu, Jan 22, 2015 at 1:59 PM, Dennis Lee Bieber
<wlfraed at ix.netcom.com> wrote:
>         To my mind, what killed REXX is that most operating systems just don't
> support its key feature well: ADDRESS targets!
>         When the only target turns ADDRESS into the equivalent of os.system()
> (or some variant of popen() ) it just loses too much. Besides the original
> mainframe implementation, I have a feeling only ARexx managed to maintain
> the spirit of REXX -- and that may have been as it was so easy to extend
> the native AmigaOS message passing IPC to create ARexx ports letting
> processes truly communicate interactively.

Very good point. I can count the instances where ADDRESS could be used
for something else on the fingers of one hand... and one of them was a
MUD server that I wrote myself, and which nobody else ever used. And
it would have done better to use SAY rather than ADDRESS; it's kinda
cute, but not very practical, to have something like this:

/* code file for implementing, say, the 'search' command */
if arg(1) = "haystack" then do
    "You find a needle in the haystack!"
    "It is long, sharp, and made of metal."
    call move_object create_object("needle"), caller
else "You find nothing of interest."

Each quoted string got sent to the client as a line of text. Yeah,
nice, but there are plenty of other ways to do it.

(The main coolness of this system was that I could update the REXX
code without restarting the server, which was pretty handy.)

Other than that, it's really not a well-used feature. Oh, what might
have been...


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