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I consider ML as an important cornerstone in abstraction, modularity and language design.

I’d love to see further advancement and progress, but at least from my perspective nothing tangible ever happens. There seems to be a cycle where some new interesting proposal/improvement/extension is published, people generally respond “wow, that’s great” and then … nothing seems to happen.

For instance, SuccessorML was announced a while ago, but currently http://successor-ml.org is dead. On the HaMLet page it reads

There also is a special “HaMLet S” that incorporates proposals for Successor ML (sML). It represents a testbed and sort of a personal vision of where sML might go have gone.

(note the strike-through).

1ML proposed some new ideas recently, but it seems to have gone the usual way of xML proposals (like MixML, AliceML …): into the drawer.

It really pains me to see that such a great language is stagnating.

Can anyone more knowledgeable shed some light on what’s going on in ML space?


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    The OCaml community seems fairly active to me. For example, this post from a few days ago links to a lot of recent work. Perhaps someone with a better view into that world can elaborate.

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      I agree. OCaml is alive and kicking with some ferocity. Mirage and Jane Street come instantly to mind as major community drivers. Upcoming OCaml versions include patches aimed at giving more precise control to the GC and having inlining as aggressive as Haskell’s. There was a recent massive rejiggering of OCaml metaprogramming techniques to be a bit friendlier and js_of_ocaml seems exciting if a bit sparse.

      I don’t think the ML standardization process is moving forward, no, but OCaml as a language and platform seems to be continuing to move.

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        One way of rephrasing it might be: the ML community outside OCaml is stagnant. There used to be a number of “branches” of the ML community with active projects, but nowadays I think SML/NJ is the only other one even making regular releases, and their releases are mostly maintenance-oriented.

        I’m not too sure if everyone in ML-land simply coalesced around OCaml, or if the people who were members of other parts of the community went elsewhere. I recall that at least when I last had much contact with ML (~10 years ago), many of the SML people weren’t big fans of OCaml, so I would be at least slightly surprised if they ended up there. But some may have. Also, I think many of the PLs researchers, who used to be a biggish part of the ML community, have moved to Haskell (with some exceptions, like some of the folks at CMU).

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          Poly/ML made a release in 2014. HOL is quite active and made a release in 2014, and Poly/ML is a recommended compiler; as I understand, you can’t even build HOL with SML/NJ. Isabelle is active, made a release in 2014, and recommends Poly/ML.

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          Yes, OCaml seems to be more lively. To be honest, I don’t consider it to belong to the group of MLs I was asking about.

          It’s hard to explain, but OCaml always felt like they were something separate from the rest of ML.

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          Needs “ask” tag?

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            Aside from evhan and co’s mention of OCaml, there’s also F# which is an ML and getting pretty good traction in the .NET community.

            To your point “what’s wrong with ML?” - I don’t think there’s anything inherently wrong with it. Haskell has some differences that may be perceived as advantages just as Clojure/Erlang (dynamic) do. ML has always fallen in a nice middle ground for me, strong types but freedom to get a little imperative if I have to.

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              ML has always fallen in a nice middle ground for me, strong types but freedom to get a little imperative if I have to.

              Yes, for me too. That’s way it is so baffling that ML isn’t more popular compared to its younger cousins, which added weird things to the more or less “perfect” core of ML.