Why nobody talks about Lua

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Why nobody talks about Lua

Alex Combas
Hello Lua list,

I wrote an article on my blog titled "Why nobody talks about Lua" and its gotten quite a few responses.
I plan to write a follow up article based on some of the comments I've seen and I'd like to get your thoughts 
on the matter as well.

Obviously people do talk about Lua, especially here ;) but in general I don't hear much about Lua especially
in comparison with how much I hear about other languages, and this has always puzzled me.


--
Best regards,
Alex Combas

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Re: Why nobody talks about Lua

Alex Bradbury
On 13 February 2010 22:04, Alex Combas <[hidden email]> wrote:
> Hello Lua list,
> I wrote an article on my blog titled "Why nobody talks about Lua" and its
> gotten quite a few responses.

I think it's worth also pointing to the discussion it generated on Hacker News:
http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=1118991

There was also discussion on Reddit:
http://www.reddit.com/r/programming/comments/b139y/why_nobody_talks_about_lua/

Alex
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Re: Why nobody talks about Lua

Alex Combas
On Sat, Feb 13, 2010 at 2:08 PM, A.S. Bradbury <[hidden email]> wrote:
On 13 February 2010 22:04, Alex Combas <[hidden email]> wrote:
> Hello Lua list,
> I wrote an article on my blog titled "Why nobody talks about Lua" and its
> gotten quite a few responses.

I think it's worth also pointing to the discussion it generated on Hacker News:
http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=1118991

There was also discussion on Reddit:
http://www.reddit.com/r/programming/comments/b139y/why_nobody_talks_about_lua/

Alex

Yes thank you, I was hoping for a bit of fresh perspective from the actual Lua community,
although there is likely a lot of overlap. ;)


--
Best regards,
Alex Combas

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Re: Why nobody talks about Lua

dcharno
Alex Combas wrote:
> Yes thank you, I was hoping for a bit of fresh perspective from the
> actual Lua community,
> although there is likely a lot of overlap. ;)

I didn't understand the article.  Lots of people use and talk about Lua.
  It serves a specific niche in application development.  The Lua team
is happy with the language.  What is the issue?
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Re: Why nobody talks about Lua

Alex Combas
On Sat, Feb 13, 2010 at 6:20 PM, dcharno <[hidden email]> wrote:
Alex Combas wrote:
Yes thank you, I was hoping for a bit of fresh perspective from the actual Lua community,
although there is likely a lot of overlap. ;)

I didn't understand the article.  Lots of people use and talk about Lua.  It serves a specific niche in application development.  The Lua team is happy with the language.  What is the issue?


I agree with you that lots of people use Lua, but I disagree that many people talk about it.

I know it is silly to compare, but if we look at reddit.com as just 1 example.

www.reddit.com/r/python has 11,424 readers, after 2 years

www.reddit.com/r/ruby has 4,350 readers, after 2 years

www.reddit.com/r/javascript has 5,423 readers, after 2 years

www.reddit.com/r/lua has 263 readers, after 1 year

Maybe this mailing list doesn't even know about www.reddit.com/r/lua and maybe after posting this message the number of readers will jump up a bit, or maybe not, either way it is shockingly small for such a well used and well known language. 


Hopefully this helps you understand my motivation for asking this question.

I know of only two major portals where lua is discussed and thats this mailing list, and the Lua forums.

The Lua wiki is very nice but it doesn't really count as a medium for discussion.

If there are other "major" portals out there where Lua is popular and frequently discussed please let me know.

--
Best regards,
Alex Combas

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Re: Why nobody talks about Lua

dcharno
Alex Combas wrote:

> I agree with you that lots of people use Lua, but I disagree that many
> people talk about it.
>
> I know it is silly to compare, but if we look at reddit.com
> <http://reddit.com> as just 1 example.
>
> www.reddit.com/r/python <http://www.reddit.com/r/python>
> has 11,424 readers, after 2 years
>
> www.reddit.com/r/ruby <http://www.reddit.com/r/ruby> has 4,350 readers,
> after 2 years
>
> www.reddit.com/r/javascript <http://www.reddit.com/r/javascript>
> has 5,423 readers, after 2 years
>
> www.reddit.com/r/lua <http://www.reddit.com/r/lua> has 263 readers,
> after 1 year

Well, Io has 78 readers and Tcl has 150.  Lua is doing better than that.
   I suspect most people who are interested in Lua follow the mailing
list. I follow reddit/r/lua, but I rarely see anything I haven't already
read here.

Maybe this is just an unrealistic metric to judge the success of Lua.
It just does what it was designed to do well.


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Re: Why nobody talks about Lua

Alexander Gladysh
>> I agree with you that lots of people use Lua, but I disagree that many
>> people talk about it.

>> I know it is silly to compare, but if we look at reddit.com
>> <http://reddit.com> as just 1 example.

>> www.reddit.com/r/python <http://www.reddit.com/r/python> has 11,424
>> readers, after 2 years

>> www.reddit.com/r/ruby <http://www.reddit.com/r/ruby> has 4,350 readers,
>> after 2 years

>> www.reddit.com/r/javascript <http://www.reddit.com/r/javascript> has 5,423
>> readers, after 2 years

>> www.reddit.com/r/lua <http://www.reddit.com/r/lua> has 263 readers, after
>> 1 year

> Well, Io has 78 readers and Tcl has 150.  Lua is doing better than that.  I
> suspect most people who are interested in Lua follow the mailing list. I
> follow reddit/r/lua, but I rarely see anything I haven't already read here.

> Maybe this is just an unrealistic metric to judge the success of Lua. It
> just does what it was designed to do well.

One also can compare the number of questions on StackOverflow on, say,
Lua (322) and Python tags (18,376)... (Perhaps Lua is so easy that no
one needs to ask the questions?)

If someone wants more realistic (or science-like) metric, TIOBE index could do:

http://www.tiobe.com/index.php/content/paperinfo/tpci/index.html

Lua is on 21-st place. (Indeed, TIOBE index is arguable, but is better
than measuring Reddit subscribers.)

That being said, I, personally, do not understand the question either.
People do not talk about Lua, they just use it.

I see two reasons to raise a hype about the language:

1. To be able to point management to that hype, so you're allowed to
use the technology. This issue is alleviated for me by my previous
successful projects using Lua. Also, anyone may point to WoW and
Lightroom and say: "See, *they* do this too".

2. To get better opensource libraries and other infrastructure. Lua
opensource infrastructure got better over the years, but, in my
opinion, it is still in a rather sad shape. I think that this,
however, is more of a chicken and egg problem...

Alexander.
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Re: Why nobody talks about Lua

Alex Combas


On Sun, Feb 14, 2010 at 1:20 AM, Alexander Gladysh <[hidden email]> wrote:
If someone wants more realistic (or science-like) metric, TIOBE index could do:

http://www.tiobe.com/index.php/content/paperinfo/tpci/index.html

Lua is on 21-st place. (Indeed, TIOBE index is arguable, but is better
than measuring Reddit subscribers.)


Yet if you look at how TIOBE generates those numbers:

"The ratings are based on the number of skilled engineers world-wide, courses and third party vendors. The popular search engines Google, MSN, Yahoo!, Wikipedia and YouTube are used to calculate the ratings."

Or in other words they look at how popular the language is based on what is happening on the internet.
 
That being said, I, personally, do not understand the question either.
People do not talk about Lua, they just use it.

I don't think you can honestly make that argument. People do talk about their interests and passions.
 
2. To get better opensource libraries and other infrastructure. Lua
opensource infrastructure got better over the years, but, in my
opinion, it is still in a rather sad shape. I think that this,
however, is more of a chicken and egg problem...


Its always a chicken egg problem, but it is a problem which every other language has had to face and which the successful and popular languages have overcome. There is only one way to get more libraries and that is to write them, and to write them you need people, and buzz and chatter on the internet certainly helps to get those people which in turn gets those libraries written. 

So you can say that there is no reason to talk about Lua because it just works, but silence certainly isn't helping anything, and I think everyone realizes that Lua could certainly use more community support.


--
Best regards,
Alex Combas

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Re: Why nobody talks about Lua

Alexander Gladysh
> Yet if you look at how TIOBE generates those numbers:
> "The ratings are based on the number of skilled engineers world-wide,
> courses and third party vendors. The popular search engines Google, MSN,
> Yahoo!, Wikipedia and YouTube are used to calculate the ratings."
> Or in other words they look at how popular the language is based on what is
> happening on the internet.

Isn't this close enough to amount of "talk" about the language?

>> That being said, I, personally, do not understand the question either.
>> People do not talk about Lua, they just use it.

> I don't think you can honestly make that argument. People do talk about
> their interests and passions.

Well, perhaps.

Roughly, at most 20% of my colleagues I know personally, who use Lua,
talk about it actively on the Internet. (No, no scientific research
done, just a feeling.)

But, then, it is probably the same for other technologies.

>> 2. To get better opensource libraries and other infrastructure. Lua
>> opensource infrastructure got better over the years, but, in my
>> opinion, it is still in a rather sad shape. I think that this,
>> however, is more of a chicken and egg problem...

> Its always a chicken egg problem, but it is a problem which every other
> language has had to face and which the successful and popular languages have
> overcome. There is only one way to get more libraries and that is to write
> them, and to write them you need people, and buzz and chatter on the
> internet certainly helps to get those people which in turn gets those
> libraries written.

> So you can say that there is no reason to talk about Lua because it just
> works, but silence certainly isn't helping anything, and I think everyone
> realizes that Lua could certainly use more community support.

I'm just saying that I'm not surprised. (Also, I *do* try to "talk"
about Lua outside of Lua-community-only areas.)

But I do not think that the posts like "Why nobody talks about Lua?"
can do much. Or do you want to attract all active language-haters and
explain them that they are wrong?

Alexander.
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Re: Why nobody talks about Lua

steve donovan
On Sun, Feb 14, 2010 at 12:29 PM, Alexander Gladysh <[hidden email]> wrote:
> But I do not think that the posts like "Why nobody talks about Lua?"
> can do much. Or do you want to attract all active language-haters and
> explain them that they are wrong?

But the comments were interesting, misconceptions and all. Here's an
attempt at transcription:

0. An 'exotic','little' language, if you measure functionality by download size.

1. Lua is mostly embedded and does its job quietly ("No one talks
about screwdrivers either") whereas PHP and Ruby are part of the
hype-driven web dev culture.

2. Lua does not come with standard batteries, and buying new batteries
can be confusing.

3. Lua does not look like C/Java, does not have a 'standard'
class-based OOP, and does not index arrays starting at zero.
(JavaScript is forgiven because of its defacto status and curly
braces.)

4. Lua has an explicit 'local' keyword, i.e. it is not Python.

5. Common dynamic languages may be pigs in the server-side performance
game, but people find it cheaper to throw processors at the problem.

However, a poster pointed out that people are increasingly interested
in the mobile space, where Pigs are a Problem!

So, 2010 should be the Year of Batteries and Mobiles....

(Sometimes, when I read these comments, I wonder if basic Google
literacy is a dying art... E.g, someone is suprised that no-one has
done a Web stack for Lua - I mean really!)

steve d.
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Re: Why nobody talks about Lua

Alexander Gladysh
>> But I do not think that the posts like "Why nobody talks about Lua?"
>> can do much. Or do you want to attract all active language-haters and
>> explain them that they are wrong?
>
> But the comments were interesting, misconceptions and all. Here's an
> attempt at transcription:
>
> 0. An 'exotic','little' language, if you measure functionality by download size.
>
> 1. Lua is mostly embedded and does its job quietly ("No one talks
> about screwdrivers either") whereas PHP and Ruby are part of the
> hype-driven web dev culture.
>
> 2. Lua does not come with standard batteries, and buying new batteries
> can be confusing.
>
> 3. Lua does not look like C/Java, does not have a 'standard'
> class-based OOP, and does not index arrays starting at zero.
> (JavaScript is forgiven because of its defacto status and curly
> braces.)
>
> 4. Lua has an explicit 'local' keyword, i.e. it is not Python.
>
> 5. Common dynamic languages may be pigs in the server-side performance
> game, but people find it cheaper to throw processors at the problem.
>
> However, a poster pointed out that people are increasingly interested
> in the mobile space, where Pigs are a Problem!
>
> So, 2010 should be the Year of Batteries and Mobiles....
>
> (Sometimes, when I read these comments, I wonder if basic Google
> literacy is a dying art... E.g, someone is suprised that no-one has
> done a Web stack for Lua - I mean really!)

6. Lua arrays start at 1 — clearly that language is an abomination!

7. Lua data types and API to handle them are utterly inconsistent.

And so on.

My "someone is wrong in the Internet" syndrome kicks in when I read
that. So I dont.

Alexander.
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Re: Why nobody talks about Lua

Gavin Wraith
In message <[hidden email]>
you wrote:

> 6. Lua arrays start at 1 — clearly that language is an abomination!
>
> 7. Lua data types and API to handle them are utterly inconsistent.
>
> And so on.
>
> My "someone is wrong in the Internet" syndrome kicks in when I read
> that. So I dont.

There is indeed much bullshit on the www. I think everone develops
their own strategies for sieving needles out of haystacks. Some of mine,
which are merely indicators of personal failings, are:

# Reject anything abusive, rude, intemperate or inconsiderate.
# Reject anything that presumes a false or conniving informality.
# Reject anything that is trying to sell something, under the
pretence of help.
# Reject anything that is unintelligibly ungrammatical or misspelled.
It is usually possible to tell the difference between lack of skill
in English and lack of skill in articulating thought. It is the
latter that I aim to reject.

Popularity is not necessarily an indicator of success.
--
Gavin Wraith ([hidden email])
Home page: http://www.wra1th.plus.com/
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Re: Why nobody talks about Lua

KHMan
In reply to this post by steve donovan
steve donovan wrote:
> On Sun, Feb 14, 2010 at 12:29 PM, Alexander Gladysh wrote:
>> But I do not think that the posts like "Why nobody talks about Lua?"
>> can do much. Or do you want to attract all active language-haters and
>> explain them that they are wrong?

2 (cheap) cents... We've been fed too much showbiz and hype in the
IT world that it has become what we are accustomed to, even if we
ourselves don't engage in such behaviour. And on the Internet,
it's too easy (and fun) to be opinionated and engage in language
wars. Opinions are very, very, very cheap on the Internet.

Of course, showbiz and hype works, and IT's marketing side is
learning fast too. Good luck if you want to actually compete on
their terms...

I say that if all Lua users talk about Lua, we'd still be a much
smaller community than the big guns. We're not going to seem "big"
unless we engage in unnatural amounts of hype and hoopla. On the
other hand, not engaging in hype is a marketing tactic too...

Also, we should remember that Lua is not actually competing
directly against the "big gun" scripting languages, so most direct
comparisons will inevitably be unfavourable.

I don't think "nobody talks about Lua" is a big problem in the
same vein that BMW doesn't worry about being Number One in the
quantity of cars manufactured sense. :-)

--
Cheers,
Kein-Hong Man (esq.)
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
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Re: Why nobody talks about Lua

Majic
I kind of like the assumption that nobody talks about Lua because we
don't want some odd crowd from another language invading our turf.
buwhahaha

On Sun, Feb 14, 2010 at 5:23 AM, KHMan <[hidden email]> wrote:

> steve donovan wrote:
>>
>> On Sun, Feb 14, 2010 at 12:29 PM, Alexander Gladysh wrote:
>>>
>>> But I do not think that the posts like "Why nobody talks about Lua?"
>>> can do much. Or do you want to attract all active language-haters and
>>> explain them that they are wrong?
>
> 2 (cheap) cents... We've been fed too much showbiz and hype in the IT world
> that it has become what we are accustomed to, even if we ourselves don't
> engage in such behaviour. And on the Internet, it's too easy (and fun) to be
> opinionated and engage in language wars. Opinions are very, very, very cheap
> on the Internet.
>
> Of course, showbiz and hype works, and IT's marketing side is learning fast
> too. Good luck if you want to actually compete on their terms...
>
> I say that if all Lua users talk about Lua, we'd still be a much smaller
> community than the big guns. We're not going to seem "big" unless we engage
> in unnatural amounts of hype and hoopla. On the other hand, not engaging in
> hype is a marketing tactic too...
>
> Also, we should remember that Lua is not actually competing directly against
> the "big gun" scripting languages, so most direct comparisons will
> inevitably be unfavourable.
>
> I don't think "nobody talks about Lua" is a big problem in the same vein
> that BMW doesn't worry about being Number One in the quantity of cars
> manufactured sense. :-)
>
> --
> Cheers,
> Kein-Hong Man (esq.)
> Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
>
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Re: Why nobody talks about Lua

Eike Decker
In reply to this post by Alexander Gladysh
This arises the question who talks the most - I wouldn't be surprised
if professional developers are simply not that talkative on the web as
mediocre programmers or beginners are:
It's dead simple to get PHP, Ruby or Python running some kind of Hello
world project that is extended step by step until the beginner has
adapted to that language and believes that it's the best language in
the world. And they talk about it - a lot.
Hello world in Lua is simple as well, but anything after that is damn
hard: As Steve wrote, you need to get your batteries yourself (point
2) - which is not so easy in Lua since it doesn't provide any at all
in the standard distribution. To get that job done, you need to know
what you need in advance, if you are a beginner, you hardly know what
you are actually using right now! I think it's frustrating for
beginners to get started with Lua. It mostly depends on the project
they get known with Lua. E.g., WoW is providing a fairly nice
framework to get into Lua development. Just like many other game
engines do. But it's scattered, and I would not be surprised if a lot
of WoW addon authors don't even know that Lua is actually good for
anything as long as the right batteries are used.
I think Lua programmers are too smart to follow the buzz and too
reluctant to write down how they solved a particular problem, simply
assuming, that if oneself solved the problem, it can't be so hard for
anyone else to solve it as well...
But is all that actually a problem?

Eike
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Re: Why nobody talks about Lua

KHMan
In reply to this post by Majic
Majic wrote:
> I kind of like the assumption that nobody talks about Lua because we
> don't want some odd crowd from another language invading our turf.
> buwhahaha

Some of us "get off my lawn" types will now repeat the old adage:
use the right tool for the right job.

And we simply don't know what the fuss is all about. About why
there is a need to quantify popularity and so forth. Or the "us
versus them" thing. Must be the Facebook generation. Or TIOBE
building its brand awareness. These are all marketing games on the
Internet where your eyeballs and sustained attention are what
marketing desires. More important is to ship your product. Or
translate Lua's strength into say, sustained funding for Lua.

Also, once you are exposed to a few programming languages, they
all become an abstraction of sorts to your intentions, a sort of
impedance matching connecting your brain to the computer, and just
another tool in the toolbox. So that's why we say... use the right
tool for the right job. Never mind about the lawn. :-)

--
Cheers,
Kein-Hong Man (esq.)
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

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Re: Why nobody talks about Lua

steve donovan
In reply to this post by Eike Decker
On Sun, Feb 14, 2010 at 3:49 PM, Eike Decker <[hidden email]> wrote:
> I think Lua programmers are too smart to follow the buzz and too
> reluctant to write down how they solved a particular problem, simply
> assuming, that if oneself solved the problem, it can't be so hard for
> anyone else to solve it as well...
> But is all that actually a problem?

Good question! (BTW, I hope people understand that those points are my
summary of perceived reasons, not my personal opinion, which naturally
is far more nuanced and could also be summarized as 'use the right
tool...')

Naturally we like to think we are a smart bunch, and many of us are
embedded people who are hard-nosed and not  so prone to blog as some
web dev types.  Different animals, nocturnal hunting cats, not noisy
parrots.  A difference in style.

It's not easy making things easy, in particular it takes time and most
of us are multitasking to the point of cache thrash already.

Oh I forgot a point;  a friend was saying that Google was starting to
get Python executing faster, so of course I said that then it just
gets into Lua non-JIT performance territory. But his comeback was
"Yes, but we have threads!"

steve d.
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Re: Why nobody talks about Lua

Alexander Gladysh
> Oh I forgot a point;  a friend was saying that Google was starting to
> get Python executing faster, so of course I said that then it just
> gets into Lua non-JIT performance territory. But his comeback was
> "Yes, but we have threads!"

Yes, they do. But we don't need them!

Alexander.
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Re: Why nobody talks about Lua

steve donovan
On Sun, Feb 14, 2010 at 5:18 PM, Alexander Gladysh <[hidden email]> wrote:
> Yes, they do. But we don't need them!

Ah, but talk about coroutines and people think they are exotic.  Also,
(just as with 'classic' OOP) people like 'classic' threads.  Just
because it works for their little examples doesn't mean it's not a
nasty unscaleable paradigm ... but you see, this is seen as being
'difficult' ;)
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Re: Why nobody talks about Lua

Timothy Hunter
In reply to this post by Alex Combas
On Feb 14 Feb 14 4:56 AM, Alex Combas wrote:
> So you can say that there is no reason to talk about Lua because it just
> works, but silence certainly isn't helping anything, and I think everyone
> realizes that Lua could certainly use more community support.
>    
I disagree. It seems to me that it's doing just fine. Lua has a strong
and dedicated community. Maybe they don't proselytize as much as the
Python/Ruby crowd, but to me that's a boon instead of a curse.

I started using Ruby about a year before Rails hit the streets. After
Rails, along with Ruby's growth in popularity came throngs of
programmer-wannabes who didn't know what a machine register is, how to
do I/O, or the difference between binary floating-point and decimal
floating-point arithmetic. I'd just as soon that not happen to Lua. One
of the reasons I like Lua is that the community is generally an
experienced and skilled bunch who understand what Lua is good for and
know how to use Lua to get the job done. I kinda like hanging out with
that bunch.

Lua is a programming language. It doesn't benefit from notoriety or
buzz. More "talk" will just attract the attention of guys who are just
looking for the next shiny thing to exploit on their blogs, their books,
their resumes, or their conference presentations.

I didn't need to point to any Dzone or reddit links to persuade my
management that Lua was the right tool for the job we needed to do. My
management wanted to know what Lua was, not who was talking about it.

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