REBOL is to Revolutionize the Internet
MUNICH (COMPUTER WEEK) - the company REBOL (pronounced "rebel") Technologies is nearing the publication of commercial release 1.0 of their programming language of the same name. "REBOL/Command" is a cross-platform Internet communication language whose goal is to make Java, Perl and others afraid.
(With REBOL, Amiga inventor Carl Sassenrath wants to revolutionize the programming of applications on the Internet.)
Behind the company created in 1998 is no less than Carl Sassenrath, his reputation among other things as the architect of the "Amiga" platform and early user of the object-oriented language "Smalltalk". Sassenrath has a large vision: He wants to connect all operating systems with only one technology. "Java does not lend itself particularly well in this area", explained the REBOL founder to Computergram. "Thus we decided to take matters into our own hands."
Sassenrath sees room in addition to C(++), Visual basic, Python and Perl for a brand new programming language. REBOL has unique abilities, he says "REBOL is not only an application, but controls communication between applications. It is the language two machines use to communicate." A core ability of REBOL is the feature of "dialects", specific subsets of the native language. Stock market transactions for example can be handled in principle with the four basic instructions "sell", "buy", "put" and "call". Developers could create a dialect with REBOL, according to Sassenrath, as a consistent language for online brokers.
Most importantly with REBOL, says the developer, is something else - the new language is more simple and more "readable" than the competition - namely moreso than Perl, the "favorite of all Web masters". "Perl is not nice", says Sassenrath. "The code is difficult to read. They incorrectly call it a 'write-once language'." Python is certainly an interesting project, but from its inception has still been tied too strongly to traditional programming methodology. XML with its "document type definition" (DTD) supplies great structures, however for the processing of the data one must still - as opposed to REBOL - fall back to other languages. "REBOL is the logical termination point of the XML development", maintains Sassenrath quite immodestly.
Regarding Java and Smalltalk the REBOL Apostle criticizes above all that one must learn these languages only at a high cost. It takes at least a year before a programmer can master it. Quite different from REBOL: "one line is all it takes to send an email", describes Sassenrath. It does not require a 4GL abstraction. "REBOL packs the complexity into simplicity skillfully." Therefore, the learning curve of developers is to a certain extent linear - simple things are easy to program.
Sassenrath predicts a great future, particularly with the application of wireless communication equipment. REBOL already performs well in areas which Microsoft might regard as dangerous to them. "Microsoft is continuously monitoring our Site", says the REBOL chief. "Our development threatens the Empire and also Java." Sassenrath is reluctant to let his start-up company be bought out. "If there is someone with a large enough checkbook ready, we will think about it." Otherwise he plans on making Microsoft more paranoid over the years "Even if it is not possible today to do such a thing: I still dream of outsmarting Microsoft. It would be a beautiful thing to see them wake up one morning and say, "Oh! We missed that!".
Anyone interested in the technical details of REBOL can find detailed information on the manufacturer's site. There can also be found a free, but not quite as powerful, version of the language ready for download for 37 (!) operating system platforms from Amiga to Solaris.