Hylang Core Developers - Episode 23

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Summary

We got the chance to talk to some of the core developers of Hylang, which is a Lisp dialect that runs on the Python VM! We talked about how it got started, how it works and why you should try it. Of particular interest is our discussion about using Hylang to backport language features, or create entirely new ones due to the power of Lisp and the Python AST (Abstract Syntax Tree). If you need to level up your Lisp knowledge, they gave us a great list of references to help out.

Brief Introduction

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  • We are recording today on August 27, 2015 and your hosts as usual are Tobias Macey and Chris Patti
  • Today we are interviewing Paul Tagliamonte, Tuukka Turto, and Morten Linderud

Interview with Hylang Developers

  • Introductions
  • How did you get introduced to Python?
  • Before we get too far along can you explain what Hy is?
  • What inspired you to create Hy?
  • What do you recommend as reference material for Python developers to gain familiarity with idiomatic Lisp?
  • What are some of the problem domains where implementation becomes easier or more elegant as a result of Hy’s LISP syntax?
  • Given the ability to create powerful macros in Lisp, could Hy be used as a way of prototyping or backporting new language features in Python?
  • What are some of the most challenging and interesting problems you encountered bringing an alternate syntax to the Python runtime?
  • While playing around with the Hy REPL I noticed that it does visual matching of parentheses when closing an expression. What other niceties have been included in the REPL?
  • What are your thoughts on adding autocompletion to the REPL as a way of encouraging discovery and exploration of the Hy language?
  • Which LISP variant is Hy most similar to, and why?
  • How does garbage collection work in Hy, and why?
  • How hard would it be to port existing LISP packages to Hy like MACSYMA or CLOS?
  • What kind of overhead in terms of runtime performance and memory usage does Hy impose? Has this been a challenge in Hy’s development?
  • What are some of the most innovative uses for Hy that you have seen or created?
  • What does the future hold for Hy?
  • I noticed that there are a large number of core contributors to Hylang and I’m curious how you determine what features to work on?

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