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F# is an awesome language.  I'd choose to write F# code any day over any language if my work allows it.  The way you are able to concisely and cleanly write code with it is what brought me over. Sure there is an initial overhead (if you we are an OO programmer) in learning all the functional constructs but in the end its all worth it.  Even though you might not be able to use it at work (read : management only wants C#/VB.NET), the way you are writing OO code will definitely be improved.  I for example have come to appreciate Generics and delegates more because of F#.

Microsoft Research has done such a great job with it and I'm quite sure they will continue to do so. 

There is no question that "F# as a language" is great. People do however have a gripe about "F# as a Microsoft product".  It is not open source nor is it standard like C#. There is a technology-lockin which I presume some fear will later on will translate into a vendor-lockin.

F# targets mainly the research and financial institutions.  I can not say much about financial companies but research instituions and technology companies are big Linux users.  There is very high likelihood that these people are also open-source advocates.  It will be in their best interest to ensure that the language works perfectly on both Windows and non-windows systems.  This is both a win for the users and for Microsoft.  It would also propel the language forward at a much quicker pace.

It might be too early to ask this given that the F# CTP was only recently released, but should Microsoft open source F# and get the community involved?

 

Posted on Wednesday, September 17, 2008 2:05 PM | Back to top


Comments on this post: Should F# be open sourced?

# re: Should F# be open sourced?
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I agree fully with your first paragraph; but later I think you are conflating two issues --

* The ability to run F# (compiler and generated code) on non-MSFTs implementations of the CLR platform (e.g. on Mono) which we have already
* An open implementation of the language (which we don't)

The lack of spec is not such an issue (as the various parallel Ruby or Python implementations demonstrate), so long as there is a big enough community in the open compiler to keep in step with the language evolution.
Left by Steve on Sep 17, 2008 5:23 PM

# re: Should F# be open sourced?
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Hi,

F# source code has always been included in the releases. You are allowed to modify it and recompile it (even if there are some restrictions - e.g. you can't sell it).

Moreover, Don Syme wrote: "Around March last year we got permission to release the compiler and library source on CodePlex under MS-PL. We still plan to do so at some
point, so my apologies for the delay."

And the MS-PL is GPL-compatible. :)
Left by Laurent on Sep 17, 2008 5:24 PM

# re: Should F# be open sourced?
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This quote from Don Syme is now over a year old, and when asked a couple of weeks ago on the non-public F# list, if Microsoft still intents to release F# under the MS-PL, the answer was not so nice. They *plan* to release the libraries on Codeplex under MS-PL but the compiler is not going to be open source'd. So don't hold your breath. F# will not be open source in the foreseeable future.
Left by anon on Nov 05, 2008 9:36 PM

# re: Should F# be open sourced?
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"I'd choose to write F# code any day over any language if my work allows it"

If limited to working on .Net, I would agree with what I know so far. But if you're looking for a general language and are not required to work on the CLR/.Net (you mention Linux and such), then why would you choose F#? Go with Ocaml (that has some powerful features F# is missing), clojure, scala, Haskell, lisp... all the languages of which F# is a limited version.

"It will be in their best interest to ensure that the language works perfectly on both Windows and non-windows systems."

From what I understand of Microsoft in the past, this statement makes no sense whatsoever. Microsoft loses (or at least, apparently they think so) if their language is not used on their platform. Put another way, traditionally, Microsoft USES the language to lock people in to their platform on purpose.

All that aside, though... yes, open sourcing it would be great! :)
Left by taotree on Aug 05, 2010 3:36 PM

# re: Should F# be open sourced?
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There is now an open source drop of the compiler avvailable. The F# team keep their promises :-)

See http://blogs.msdn.com/b/dsyme/archive/2010/11/04/announcing-the-f-compiler-library-source-code-drop.aspx

Left by FSharper on Nov 17, 2010 5:39 AM

# re: Should F# be open sourced?
Requesting Gravatar...
Looks like you just got your wish :)
Left by Dmitri on Jan 01, 2011 5:51 PM

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