RubyConf: Matz Roundtable

Posted by Nick Sieger Sat, 21 Oct 2006 02:59:38 GMT

An annual tradition at RubyConf is the “Roundtable”, where any member of the audience can come up and ask Matz any question. Transcript follows with partial paraphrasing.

Q. Will Ruby ever get the features of evil built in? Will we get become? No.

Q. If Symbol is a “frozen” String, why do we need Symbol? I don’t have a complete answer to that question -- following tradition.

Q. What’s the most unusual architecture Ruby has ever run on? Ruby...I can’t think of one...JRuby? Some guys ran compiled Ruby on the NECS supercomputer. [From the audience] Symbian.

Q. As Ruby gains acceptance, it becomes more resistance to change. How do you keep agile while gaining momentum? We have forked off 1.8, so if you want stable, use Ruby 1.8 forever.

Q. The array patch -- is there any chance of a backport for those of us who want 1.8 forever? Could be, but the current patch has a bug in 1.9.

Q. Why isn’t YARV the only VM for 1.9? [Comment about register-based VM] I’m not sure whether stack-based or register-based VMs are better...[THAT GUY!]...[Given the hook]

Q. It seems like momentum is based on strong metaprogramming facilities. With 1.9 there are more user-friendly features. Will code eventually be data, or are we just patching on techniques on a tool that is being used more heavily? An extreme way to do metaprogramming is to use Lisp, but for practicality we have to start somewhere. I’m not sure that s-expressions are the way to go. We’re not going to have macros. It will remain similar to what we have in 1.9. The ability to serialize code would be really powerful -- will that happen? Disclosing internal state is tricky because it changes. It could be a platform-specific feature.

Q. Recently for 1.9, there was a patch for Array and String to be in the object header. Was this profiled? It seems like it would be an incredible performance problem. It was done for slowness of malloc and gc. In some cases it could run slower, but it benchmarked at about 5% faster. It should be tested thoroughly.

Q. Ruby 2.0 will not have green threads or continuations, correct? Are there specific reasons for that decision? It is difficult to implement green threads in YARV.

Q. People want to see development move quickly, but may not be able to contribute code. Can you suggest ways for those programmers to contribute? Submit patches to the list. What is the obstacle to joining us? [Question restated] Submit testing, submit documentation. Contribute to RubyCentral? (looks at Chad Fowler)

Q. The CSV library is useful, but slow. Can we see FasterCSV in stdlib? It’s ok to replace the csv library with FasterCSV, as long as the compatibility issues are resolved.

Q. I want to thank you because I love writing in Ruby every day. I tried to write Python first. Recently an unrelated upgrade broke my Python apps. Will we be able to manage multiple versions of Ruby? You’ll have to have two versions, 1.8, and future ones.

Q. What would you say is the most important feature of your personality that has given you success? Endurance? Can you elaborate? It’s easy to design a language, many of them disappear in a year or two. I’ve been working on Ruby for 13 years.

Q. I wanted to see in IRB how the class was implemented at runtime. (He means an uneval feature) [Audience member (Eric Hodel?) mentioned ParseTree]

Q. If there wasn’t Ruby, what would you be programming in? Some language of my own not named Ruby.

Q. Do you still look at RCRchive? Yes. I’ll talk about it in the keynote.

Q. I would like a feature abstraction that would allow Ruby to fork itself rather than actually forking. Can you see this added to core? We have to define the behavior of that feature. We have to have a good name for the method. Then there will be no problem to add it to core.

Q. Why do you need to bind methods to an object of the same original module? If you bind a method taken from String class to Array class, it will crash, and we need to prevent it.

Q. What do you think of Ruby.NET? I’m pretty open to new implementations. Should there be a standard (language specs) that other projects should follow? Charles started work for a written 1.8 spec, and I’ll help him with that if I have time.

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  1. Avatar Jon Dahl said about 17 hours later:

    This is great - thanks for taking the time to blog these sessions.

  2. Avatar Anand said 96 days later:



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