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Up Front

From Turbo Pascal to Haskell

by Michael Swaine

Generic image illustrating the article

The leaves on the liquid amber trees outside the door are starting to turn. We’ve had some corn on the cob that was so sweet it didn’t need butter. Soon we’ll be choosing our perfect pumpkin for the carving party toward the end of the month.

Autumn is a nostalgic time of year, and I found myself slipping into a sentimental mood as I wrote about the birth of Turbo Pascal in a little computer history article for this issue. The community for which the arrival of a new programming language implementation is an occasion of celebration is a special community, and Turbo Pascal was a special programming language implementation.

But magazine editors need to think a season ahead, so I’m also thinking about winter downtime and the article that you could write for me while your loved ones are frolicking on the beach or on the slopes. Pardon me if I inappropriately project my lifestyle onto you. But if I’m right and you have a little free time in the next couple of months, you might consider writing an article for PragPub. We pay in fame and gratitude, and the satisfaction of getting your words and code out there in front of the smartest technical audience I know.

But maybe you want some examples of what we’re looking for? You might start with this issue.

Over the past few issues, Paul Callaghan has been favoring us with a series on Haskell, a purely functional programming language. At the Functional Programming Languages and Computer Architecture ’87 conference, Haskell was chosen as an open standard for functional languages, and it now serves as a basis for research in functional-language design. But over the years Haskell has become a practical language for development. In this issue, Paul puts the key concepts developed in earlier columns to work in an interesting exercise to demonstrate its virtues.

Michael Nygard is back this month, too, wrapping up a series of horror stories from his days as a troubleshooter for “for a company that offered 24x7 operations for websites that we didn’t create.” In this installment, he reveals how he solved the problem of the system that was waiting for Godot.

Also: Jonathan Rasmusson shares some insights gained while working in iOS development. Your editor takes you back in time. And John Shade decides not to delve into Apple’s Map app flap and instead spends his whole column talking about cockroaches. You don’t want to miss that!