APL Library

I’ve been staring at a list of workspaces that make up APL Library (https://sourceforge.net/projects/apl-library) for more than a week trying to get inspired. Why did I start this thing in the first place?

I remember discovering GNU APL. I had purchased a copy of STSC APL thirty years ago. I still have it, and with a Linux DOS emulator I can still run it. I spent $500 for a license. At odd moments I’d go to IBM’s website to see what a license costs these days and then move on to something else.

Suddenly, all I had to do was download GNU APL and compile it. I was sold right there.

I found a printout of an editor I wrote in 1983. I tediously typed it into a new GNU APL workspace. I haven’t used it since I got it working. I like Emacs better.

I started work on APL Library almost immediately. My first pass was porting utilities that I had written in the STSC days. I discovered that porting was not exactly what I had to do. Retyping is a better description. As I learned APL2, which has features not present in the old APL, I discovered that many of these utilities weren’t relevant.

∆TAB is a good example. I copied this function out of APL: A Design Handbook for Commercial Systems, by Adrian Smith, Wiley, 1982. Its left argument is the delimiter used in its right argument. It returns a character array in which each item in the right argument is a line in the array.

Now I just enter the list ‘First item’ ‘Second item’ ‘Third item.’ Aren’t nested arrays a wonderful thing? (In APL each character string is an array. In APL2 one can combine several character strings into a nested array.)

I soon discovered that APL2 addressed many of the things I’d struggled with so much I abandoned the whole project.

At the same time there were many things I needed and an equal number of things that were just neat. utf8∆saveVar is a good example. This function writes a new workspace to disk with the code to generate one variable in the current workspace.

I spend way too much time keeping books. At the end of each quarter I do a bank reconciliation. It’s a tedious task, and with luck, having proved my work for that quarter, I’ll never have to look at that work paper again.

I am not a lucky guy, so I save the reconciliation with utf8∆saveVar.

APL Library is a combination of the flashes of insight like utf8∆saveVar and the tedious struggle to set up plebeian things like my date workspace. All in all it serves me well.

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