Re: Opinions on Dart’s Isolates?

Richard O'Keefe raoknz@REDACTED
Sun Jan 9 10:31:16 CET 2022

I'm irresistibly reminded of this exchange from
the Goon Show episode "The Great Bank of England Robbery":

SEAGOON: How do you play the inside of a cylindrical record backwards?

BLOONOK: Quite simple, you put it on in the opposite direction, going away
from you, the other way.

Dart/Isolates/Flutter looks WONDERFUL if I put my Javascript spectacles on,
but with my Erlang glasses it's a dreadful tangle of "callbacks" and
Isolates, good.  The key thing about an isolate is its event loop,
AND IT'S NOT YOUR EVENT LOOP.  You can't even see it.  It's DART's event
loop, doing whatever Dart wants to do.  You cannot tailor it.  You cannot
have a process which has different selective receives in different states.
Communication between isolates is in terms of actions, not messages.
It's as if someone heard of the actor model (which is actually where
Smalltalk started, irony of ironies), and passed the idea on to
Sven the User Interface Designer .

OK, so I'm exaggerating for humourous effect, but when the sales pitch for
a programming language puts up such horrible examples of what *ought* to
be very simple and the presenter says how simple it is, somebody isn't

I think it was the video on async/await that I understood what was
bothering me.  All this subtle and elaborate syntax, because
That fundamental view is built into the language:  NORMAL programming is
sequential object-oriented programming, concurrent processes are the
exception that needs "heavyweight" interfaces to cope with the mind-twisting
horror.  (The many-angled ones live at the bottom of the Mandelbrot set,
as it were.)

The basic idea of Erlang is that CONCURRENCY IS NORMAL.
It's not quite as extreme as Flat Concurrent Prolog or Guarded Horn Clauses
where the idea was the concurrent programming was the ONLY kind.
This was Joe Armstrong's genius, and I'm so sad that he's not here to read
that comment.  Don't add concurrency to an existing programming language.
Start with concurrency and add a language to that.

So it is a good thing that Dart programmers have something better to
work with than C++ programmers.  It could have been even better, but
it can't get *much* better without ceasing to be Dart.

On Sun, 9 Jan 2022 at 11:25, Garry Hodgson <garry@REDACTED> wrote:

> I’ve been looking into Flutter a bit as a platform for phone apps, and
> that got me looking into the Dart language. Their approach to concurrency
> feels awful familiar, with “isolates” looking a lot like Erlang processes.
> It’s actually pretty cool, nice and clean, albeit wrapped in some OO noise.
> I imagine, though don’t know, that they were influenced by Erlang/Elixir,
> although I suppose something like parallel evolution of the Actor model
> could be responsible as well (sharks and whales look a lot alike).
> Anyway, I wondered what other Erlangers thought about it. You can find an
> overview here:
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