Earlier this week I gave a presentation to London Julia on my experiences while revising my book on Julia to accommodate version 1.0. As I researched for the talk, it became clear to me that the presentation would not receive widespread approbation, speaking as I was to a set of believers. However it seems incumbent upon on to me to share my conclusions about the state of affairs in Julia with this wider forum, not with any expectation of achieving any great acclamation.
My sortie with Julia v1.0 began on the first day of JuliaCon when I flagged up my dismay of a philosophy seeking to impose a restrictive programming paradigm on a set of the very people we are hoping to attract. This has come to be termed the “Julia Global Debacle” and it would seem that the matter will eventually be addressed, although, in the opinion of this correspondent, while it remains in place the damage persists.
The bulk of this article is devoted to the current state of the so-called Ecosystem, after the ill-judged launch of version 1.0 in August. Indeed after the conference, Steven G Johnson suggested that there is little to be gained in using v1.0 and much to be lost, viz. the deprecation warnings provided by v0.7. Further Stefan Karpinski commented that it might have been a good idea to have launched v1.0 WITH deprecation warnings, although in fact isn’t that what v0.7 was and is?, suffixing his comment with those terrible few words in the English language: “what’s done is done”.
In August/September various questions were raised as to which packages work with v1.0; these requests have become less frequent of date, not because the subject has gone away but I suppose because the proponents are running out of stamina. Just after the conference, Tim Holy asked us to wait a couple of weeks while the current packages were brought up to compliance, an intended function of the previous version (v0.7) which it had failed to fulfil, as it only exited the development phase a couple of days before v1.0 was launched.
Stefan Karpinski stated then that this was in fact difficult to do, which is odd for a community capable of producing a system as complex as Julia and who had been providing such information on previous versions for a number of years. He also stated that the package NewPkgEval.jl does INDEED work, almost, and with a little badgering on his part, could be polished and run a regular basis. That was in August and now four months later, either it actually does not work or is just not being run, certainly the package’s source have not been touched for over two months.
So what help does Joe/Josephine Programmer get when they take their first tentative steps after downloading Julia? The old web page, pkg.julialang.org is now defunct but remains in existence, visible on the Internet and still referring to life pre-JuliaCon when Julia v0.6.3 was Queen and v0.7 was undergoing development.
The Julialang.org Home Page references Dan Segal’s, laudable Ruby on Rails package, running on JuliaObserver.com and which itself has not touched significantly since JuliaCon. Being an automatic process, harvesting data from a variety of online sources, it deals with activity not compliance and creates such interesting quirks as classifying QuantEcon.jl as the leading package in the Chemistry category. Of course JuliaObserver does not provide information about the extent to which packages actually work with v1.0, and with earlier versions - so failing to meet the queries posed right back in August - but is the primary source offered.
Since establishing the Julia User group in London, five years ago to the day, I have devoted my efforts to Paulian evangelistic presentations in the UK and elsewhere, speaking to Data Scientists, Pythons, R-ites and the like, which in general have been received with a deal of interest. At present this will have to cease as the sentiments I have expressed here would almost certainly be reflected in the options of these larger cauci.
I remain a supporter of the Julia project, albeit a less optimistic one than I was four months ago.
London, UK, 14th December 2018