Web developers depend on scripting languages to automate things. To this end, those snippets of code we see embedded everywhere are often the technological equivalent to man's best friendthat is if you own a leash and know how to say, "sit."
I'm sure I'm not the first guy to copy a piece of public code that "sort of" does what I want, then muck around with it for hours in a torturous game of trial and error, only to emerge with it finally performing the task, without me knowing how. When folks say, "Don't touch that code!" you know what they really mean. They're saying that if you break the code they copied, they haven't a clue how to ever get it working again.
The truly sad part of this story is that most of the tasks that we want these scripts to accomplish are relatively simple. Quite honestly, if I can convince the computer to take just one boring job off my hands a day, I'd just as soon use the time to catch up on my reading. It seems a shame that I have to sweat all those symbols between the brackets just to do something as simple as automating the process of sending the company web page to my boss once a day.
Rebol, Relative Expression-Based Object Language, was designed by Carl Sassenrath and quietly released to the world in 1998. It's free to everyone and works on just about any platform you can name.
I met Mr. Sassenrath earlier this year and was impressed by his love of language. This is not so unusual for someone who designs code, but he actually designed code that read, well, like words. English words.
Of course there are limitations to this approach. But, we all know that so many of the tasks requiring scripts are simple tasks. For example, if I wanted to send this article to my dad via e-mail, the Rebol script would read:
send firstname.lastname@example.org read http://webreview.com/1999/08/27/feature/index.html
The hardest part of writing that code was typing the URL.
If this strikes a chord with you, then you should read our feature article, "Why Rebol Matters," by Michael Swaine. We ask the question, "Why does the world need another programming language?" Swaine gives us a number of good answers to that question.
I'd like to add just one more reason: We still need a multiple platform, inexpensive scripting language that enables folks like me to write code from scratch. I don't know about the rest of you, but I'm tired of cutting and pasting things I don't understand.
Why Rebol Matters
Rebol shows its colors as a scripting language alternative.