Strong opinions, weakly held

The era of the REPL

Coming from a background in higher-level languages like Ruby, Scheme, or Haskell, learning C can be challenging. In addition to having to wrestle with C’s lower-level features like manual memory management and pointers, you have to make do without a REPL. Once you get used to exploratory programming in a REPL, having to deal with the write-compile-run loop is a bit of a bummer.

From Alan O’Donnell’s article, Learning C with GDB. What I take away from this is that I’m not using REPLs nearly enough, especially when I’m learning new things.


  1. On the Mac, readline with ipython and scala is great. A fantastic way to explore an API and experiment.

  2. I’ve noticed that there are a couple of environments that try to provide REPLs for C, but I find that even with environments that have REPLs, I more often tend to be creating Makefiles for those languages so that my learning and tests are integrated with my editor, and that they get run in a consistent environment.

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