March 16, 2001, 9:19 AM —
REBOL is a proprietary scripting computing language invented by Carl Sassenrath, founder and CTO of REBOL Technologies of northern California. This week, we'll look at the progress that REBOL and its language have made in the last six months, and their future prospects.
Not just another language
Regular Expressions subjects seem to fall into two extreme categories. One category contains subjects with a single, simple idea accompanied by technical details. PyQt, for instance, is Qt bound to Python. The content of this kind of article fits in the headline; the body contains the who, what, and where: licensing, release dates, name, places, and so on.
The other category consists of topics that require considerable context. For example, to write about how exception handling is qualitatively different for scripting languages, you must have a good background in scripting, exception abstractions, and subtleties of syntax and semantics just to express the main point.
REBOL is in the latter category. Newcomers typically need to learn a lot before they understand REBOL. For now, concentrate on three keywords: technology, tool, and product.
Sassenrath's technologic vision
Our three previous columns that focused on REBOL emphasized that most of the credit for REBOL's technology goes to Sassenrath. REBOL's executives all have deep industry experience, but Sassenrath is the celebrity, mostly for his design and implementation of the Amiga OS. REBOL combines ideas that appeared in Amiga with other insights Sassenrath has been cultivating for up to 20 years.
The result is a messaging language that is succinct, quick to learn, and almost heroically portable. (REBOL works as universally as Java is supposed to: on BeOS for PPC, Open VMS, Amiga, MPE/iX, and dozens of other platforms.) It is also, as Australian developer Allen Kamp exults, "more fun" than anything in the last 20 years. REBOL knows about the most important networking technologies, and is designed for readability. This makes for compelling one-liners, such as:
This retrieves the
hello.r REBOL script from the
ftp.rebol.com FTP server and executes it as a local application. REBOL incorporates knowledge of HTML, networking protocols, and email, as well as the usual data and control structures.
The real excitement, though, comes from applications that are more than just illustrative samples. Sassenrath encapsulates his ideas on source development and reuse in REBOL's dialecting mechanism.