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Vol.26 No.4

Vol.26 No.4


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Volume 24, No.4

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APL 2010 – Berlin

Mike Hughes

Berlin is a great city – it was my first visit and I found it light and airy with its wide tree-lined streets. The river meanders through the middle and some of the architecture is stunning. It proved a good backdrop to what I found was an interesting conference, even if the wireless LAN failed to work.

The conference itself was well attended – I think there were about 150 attendees in total. I was very pleased to see more hair colour than grey (or even hair!) than I was expecting. There were many young faces in the crowd and they weren’t all German students, who were given free admission. A good idea from the organisers.

I felt the whole conference was generally very forward looking, Dyalog, APL2000 and IBM put on a good show with their various stands in the area where the coffee and food were served. There seemed plenty of interest around each stand.

There were one or two talks on the history but the majority of presentations seemed to be looking forward. I sensed a real feeling of renewal and optimism. The theme of the conference was parallelism and there were many talks on different aspects of this. It really seemed as if APL was poised to take full advantage of the new hardware as it becomes available.

There were presentations from Dyalog that ranged from a new universal IDE to interact with any and all Dyalog sessions on any platform. This will solve problems such as: not being able to interact with a Dyalog session when running it with IIS7; allowing a session to be attached to a remote Dyalog process for remote debugging on any platform supporting Dyalog. At one point I think John Daintree had a Unix, a Mac and a Windows session alongside each other – it looked very exciting from a developer’s point of view.

Brian Becker gave a workshop talk on SAWS and Web Services. Morten Kromberg presented a paper on Peach which attempts to look at parallelism at the operator rather than function level – so trying to emulate each, outer product, rank and namespaces (dot) in a cross-processor model.

APL2000 demonstrated version 10 of APL+Win and showed how WPF and .Net worked with APL+Win. I was lucky enough to get a personal demonstration from Joe Blaze on the ease with which APL+Win can work with these.

It was good to catch up with old friends and to discuss issues with like-minded people. I found this, the most useful and enjoyable part of the conference. The accessibility of the various suppliers, various developers and ideas arising from some of their work. I heard many voices trying to get us to try and fit in better with our IT neighbours, perhaps the tide will turn to better cooperation within and outside the APL community.

Paul Grosvenor gave a good insight into the art of selling bacon to a vegetarian, using it as an example of thinking on your feet and being prepared, in an interesting talk on how best to sell APL and yourself.

There were language enhancements discussed such as mask and mesh, regular expression, unifying Dynamic and Traditional functions and a new dialect APL#. Dyalog and APL2000 are clearly both working hard to make APL capable of living in the new .Net Object Orientated world without losing the core benefits of APL.

Overall I found it a good conference, one that gave me hope that APL is not only going to survive in the future but that it will also be a great and better recognised language in 2020.


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