Friday, November 10, 2006


Practical Ocaml - And I had such high hopes

If you go back to my first posting, you'll see that before Common Lisp the language I used for home programming was OCaml. I still prefer Lisp's uniform syntax and macros, but Ocaml has a soft spot in my heart.

That's why I was looking forward to Apress' "Practical OCaml", which was going to be OCaml's answer to "Pratical Common Lisp", even doing some of the same projects - good for comparison.

Well, reviews are coming in, and the short version is, except for the prose and the code, the book's just fine. For the sarcasm impaired, the amazon reviews are all one star, and even the book's technical reviewer is not thrilled with it.

Some reviewers are even concerned that this will discourage others from writing a good OCaml book or learning OCaml. Thank you, Peter, for doing such a good job on "Pracital Common Lisp".

If you go back through the cll archives, you can see just how much time Peter spent becoming familiar with Common Lisp. The years of effort paid off.
The way Practical Common Lisp was written was clearly superior to many other books. Fans of the language were able to review all the chapters before the book got published.

I hope the next OCaml book will follow this example. You can only do better.

I have Pratical OCaml. It isn't a total waste. Spotting errors in it is an other way of learning a programming language. :-)

But reading some tutorials and playing around with the language, _before_ starting to read Practical OCaml will really help you. This book sure isn't for beginners (as stated on the cover).
I supposed that part of the strategy was to have a series of books that basically had the same progression, sample projects and so forth. The idea being that this would make it easier to move between languages. If this was the idea would the execution of that idea be any way better? Or is it still awful?
Still awful. I expected the book to be bad, bought it anyway to support the possibility of future Ocaml books.

Even with lowered expectations, I was shocked at how horrible it was.
fNO0gk Thanks to author.
actually, that's brilliant. Thank you. I'm going to pass that on to a couple of people.
Nice Article.
Please write anything else!
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