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Open Source Programming

Ask Slashdot: How Can I Make My Own Vaporware Real? 128

Long-time Slashdot reader renuk007 is a retired Unix/Linux systems programmer with the ultimate question: After retiring I started a second career as a teacher -- and I'm loving it. My problem: I designed a (I feel) wonderful new language compiler, but implementing it will take me another ten years if I have to do it part-time.

Linus Torvalds was able to leverage the enthusiasm of the Internet to make Linux exist, but 1990 was a more innocent time. How does it work today? Any thoughts?

Or, to put it another way, how can you build a community to bring your ideas to light? Leave your best thoughts and suggestions in the comments. How can you make your own vaporware real?
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Ask Slashdot: How Can I Make My Own Vaporware Real?

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    so a new language or a new compiler?

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I am more of an ideas guy

  • Description? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 14, 2018 @05:44PM (#56438339)

    You'll need to show someone *something*. Got a link to an abstract discussing why this compiler is so much better and worth the time investment? Not like there's a dearth of compilers of various designs out there.

  • What kind of vapid bullshit is this?? Let's all have a mental circle-jerk and opine meaninglessly about what it takes to achieve success...
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 14, 2018 @05:47PM (#56438359)

    Make the language simple enough so a simple parser will do.* Write a simple back-end that works, however inefficiently.

    Then publish.

    linus did it by publishing early and often. He also had the tide with him, building on a handy-dandy toolset, surfing on a wave of user demand for something, anything, that would make their computer go (linux really is very shoddy in its design and very far from the cutting edge, that was already the case right from the get-go), and you don't: There are too many pet languages already. But don't let that stop you. Write software that works, efficient comes later. Oh, and get with the documenting early on. Language specification, goals, non-goals, et cetera. Publishing early and publishing often is still a good start, and then there's the community building.

    * I'd like to mention the Crenshaw textfiles here.

    • by UnknownSoldier ( 67820 ) on Saturday April 14, 2018 @07:00PM (#56438711)

      Pretty much this.

      "Ideas are a dime a dozen, its their implementation that is worth their weight in gold"

      Also a successful business must master "good enough." Build up the revenue stream and slowly add features. The late Steve Jobs knew this in spades. e.g. The first iPhone didn't have cut/copy/paste but it didn't need to.

      These days it is called Minimum viable product [wikipedia.org]

      • That's the reason why there is so much crap and fad software on the net that dies within 3 years after its invention.
        • Agreed; when the creators see the numbers of early adopters, they think that that's it let's not follow through with what we were planning -- this one is good enough, and the numbers are attractive so far. The project develops inertia instead of momentum. The deliverable has yet to arrive; the minimal remains just that -- a mockup of what could have been And in three years it will be forgotten, or remembered as another wannabe.

    • I would second the recommendation of releasing a viable "proof of concept" for public comments.

      Twenty years ago (how time flies) I was part of a group of people who dealt with parallel port devices for Linux. A couple of newbies joined the Linux parallel port mailing list and started spouting about bus theory for sharing the parallel port for multiple device drivers. For the most part the participants on the mailing list were more interested in the practical side of getting their favorite parallel storage d

  • by stevegee58 ( 1179505 ) on Saturday April 14, 2018 @05:49PM (#56438367) Journal
    "...but you'll have to do some actual work."

  • I seriously doubt you are talking about a new compiler, because you have virtually no chance of making one better than existing compilers for languages in use like C or Java.

    So I'm guessing you mean a new compiled language. Rather than Linux, look at the history of Python [wikipedia.org], it's closer to what you are thinking.

    If what you are proposing is neither a compiler nor a language than you need to learn a lot more about computers before anyone will take you seriously.

  • Maybe the simplest answer to your question is... Tell people what you have.

    Kickstarter or similar services are a great way to judge interest in a project. If you truly have something people will want, they will gladly donate to and share your idea. Of course this still requires marketing, maybe a break even type of thing. However with a niche offering like this, if you don't have a name or any way to prove what you can do, then don't expect much traction.

    Said in another way... if you aren't already known it

    • Oh and until you tell people what you actually have, it will always be vaporware.

    • Okay, here's what it is. It's BASIC.

      I didn't want to make the intro too long, and I didn't want to turn off all the folks who think that BASIC sucks. But I programmed in it for ten years before switching to C, and I kept wishing that there could be a language that combined the speed of C, the friendliness of BASIC, the complex numbers and arrays of FORTRAN, the absolute reliability of COBOL's decimal math, and the stuff engineers always want like double-precision and FFT as built-in functions, and a bunch

    • Here's some extracts from the manual's intro section. They should give a better understanding of the question "why?" The new language's tentative name is "STANDARD".

      Our goal with STANDARD is simple: to create a compiler which generates safe, fast code for processors which provide hardware memory protection and privilege control. Our starting point was C, arguably the most awesomely efficient language on the planet, but whose unbridled power exposes razor-sharp edges to the unwary. It is impossible for a C c

      • I'm having flashbacks to PL/1, which was IBM's idea for combining FORTRAN, COBOL, and ALGOL. It was not a tremendous success.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    New language? can you write the front-end for LLVM? https://llvm.org/docs/tutorial/OCamlLangImpl1.html

  • In other words: (Score:5, Insightful)

    by AmazingRuss ( 555076 ) on Saturday April 14, 2018 @06:06PM (#56438453)

    ""How do I get highly skilled, highly paid people to work on my idea for free?"

    If you figure that out, I'd love to learn it.

    • by Brett Buck ( 811747 ) on Saturday April 14, 2018 @06:17PM (#56438511)

      I think its more like:

      "I have this idea about a machine that would transport matter instantly from one place to another, but I don't know much about physics, can someone flesh it out for me"


      • by WallyL ( 4154209 )

        I think its more like:

        "I have this idea about a machine that would transport matter instantly from one place to another, but I don't know much about physics, can someone flesh it out for me"


        1. Design device that transports matter instantly from one place to another.
        2. ???
        3. Profit!

    • ""How do I get highly skilled, highly paid people to work on my idea for free?"

      If you figure that out, I'd love to learn it.

      Isn't that the principle behind stackoverflow and the like, where people sell skills in return for a bit of pride?

      • Stackoverflow would like you to think so. In fact, it demonstrates that free advice is generally worth what you paid for it.

        • by Rande ( 255599 )

          Spending 30 minutes searching to see if my problem has already been solved to more or less an extent is time well spent. Sure, there'll be a lot of unhelpful junk to wade through, but it's still a lot more efficient than spending all day or maybe even a week tracing through code trying to find out exactly what is happening.

    • It's fairly simple in concept. Executing this concept is left as an exercise for the reader.

      Design a piece of software. Make sure it fills a need. If it fills a need for you, that's a start.

      Get something out there that works and does something useful, using some sort of F/OS license. Put it on Github or somewhere like that, so people can find it and contribute code and documentation.

      Get people to use it, and incorporate their fixes and additions.

      Get some momentum going, and aim to make the soft

  • Instead of trying to figure out how to get everyone else implement your ideas, how 'bout you get off your ass and start doing it yourself?
    Society does not exist to jump when you say frog.
    By asking the question you're just telling us you're a manipulative narcissist.

  • He did a bang up job implementing the Winklevii's idea a few years ago. Also, there's some dissatisfaction with how he's doing his current job, so he might be looking for a new project.

  • You don't make a viral hit by saying "I want to make a viral hit, how do I do it?" You get started, release, provide details, show your enthusiasm by obviously putting more time into it, answer stupid questions over and over until someone starts helping, and you just keep it up. That would take all of 30 minutes to get rolling on Github.

    You provided ZERO details in your ask-slashdot! Literally none! So all signs currently point to you perhaps being unwilling to give up enough control to benefit from oth

    • You don't make a viral hit by saying "I want to make a viral hit, how do I do it?"

      A half-dozen boy bands from the past decade or so would like a word with you.

      Also chiming in to disagree is Milli-Vanilli, with the Spice Girls on backup.

  • by J. T. MacLeod ( 111094 ) on Saturday April 14, 2018 @06:44PM (#56438625)

    You don't need a fully formed product to introduce your project to the world. You just need something that is complete enough to be useful.

    Maybe that's a feature-incomplete version. Maybe it's a moderately complete spec that can be used to build your goal. Maybe you start by building on some existing toolchain that you later plan to migrate away from. Whatever gets the project rolling fastest without sacrificing its core.

    Once you have that, then you can start getting people's attention. Post about it where people talk about programming and new language projects.

    Build it, and they will come. They will not come before you build it. So build *something*, even if it isn't finished.

  • Just this week I've programmed in Groovy for Jenkins, Java, JavaScript for client-side, C# for a web app, C++ for a desktop app, SQL stored procedures, Ruby for Puppet scripts, PHP for a web app, BASH, and PowerShell. We already have too many languages.

  • by brian.stinar ( 1104135 ) on Saturday April 14, 2018 @06:55PM (#56438677) Homepage

    I own a custom software development company [noventum.us]. We accept money to turn vaporware into real software. Money is very useful for turning one thing into another, and was invented for exactly that purpose. Barter has many inefficiencies, and I prefer to use money rather than goodwill, community, equity, animals, vegetables, sexual favors, or IOUs, for creating software.

    • by Kjella ( 173770 )

      No offence, but with money you can have the equivalent of a vanity press. Like you'll have people writing code for you but nobody gives a shit.

  • Sigh. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ledow ( 319597 ) on Saturday April 14, 2018 @07:23PM (#56438815) Homepage

    If you can design a compiler and have any clue whatsoever about how to do so effectively, you can sure as hell break out another compiler and code it up.

    Then, once it's self-hosting, you can concentrate on the compiler itself.

    Like every "project" I ever got involved with or people asked me to join since I was a kid - it's the person with "all the ideas" who has no clue how to actually make the thing work, or what's even feasible. While the people who "can do" have a thousand such ideas throughout their life and can implement the ones that actually work and are feasible.

    Trust me, I've sat there for years thinking about ideal programming languages and game concepts and operating system design and all kinds of things. It's when you sit down and actually code stuff that you realise why it doesn't work, why it can't work well, why it's not so easy, and why the existing things were designed as they are.

    The "wow" moments come from someone MAKING IT HAPPEN and seeing that the lightbulb-moment can be real, never from just the moment or idea itself.

  • Totally off topic! Why a new language? Lots of old ARM hardware out there just dying to broken out of the walled gardens from whence they came.
  • by Archfeld ( 6757 ) <treboreel@live.com> on Saturday April 14, 2018 @08:06PM (#56438957) Journal

    Start by recruiting your own students in a group or club, and then post a project to GitHub or Openhub.

    https://www.openhub.net/ [openhub.net]

    https://github.com/open-source [github.com]

  • You need to get your idea out their, WITH a good explanation/business case explaining why what you are doing is inherently better/innovative and worth the investment of time from others. You have a huge amount of long hours, hard work and persuading to do and you better have a very very good justification for the value of yet another language/compiler if you want anyone to follow.
  • We don't need another language, and compiler design pretty much peaked in the 70's. Try to build a community of interested volunteers, but if nobody is interested, that might be a clue that your idea isn't valuable enough to anyone except yourself.
  • Being successful requires:
    1. Finding a group of people facing a similar problem with skills to contribute.
    2. Demonstrating enough value to them to justify their effort.

    These are both really (!) hard things to do. The software market is fairly crowded these days, so demonstrating you can beat existing offerings is hard. And although the Internet allows people to search fairly well, finding people facing similar problems is still really hard. It's not like you can show up on forums of a similar product, pitch y

  • I suggest you write a few code samples in your new language and convince people that it has something captivating about it. You don't need a working compiler to write software, only to run it. And if you have already told people what to expect the output is they don't need to run it to find out.

    Here's an example of my new language

    10 ask what I want
    20 do it
    30 goto 10

    But seriously, if people see an elegant new way to solve a real problem they might go for it - eg. a way to tie in unit tests to the sourc

  • Disclaimer: bullshit from the ignorati follows.

    1. Make an pre-announcement to popular geek sites - like you just did here. When it's ready, get both your targeted audience and vaunted coders to review the beast on those sites.

    2. Make a WEB site like PHP.net or SQLite.org, with announcements, news, conference and event dates, examples, comments, downloads, documentation, Q&A, important people info, email, sponsor and donation links, and thanks.

    3. Create a 501(c)(3) organization. If you want a viab

    • All good ideas, but too soon. You need to have the meat of something before it's worth setting up the company. In other words, it'll have to start by implementing a basic form of the language. Slow, missing features, weaker library, but the design and initial implemention needs to be there.

      5. YouTube tutorials, starting

      That depends if you want new users or experienced programmers who can help on the project.

  • by AHuxley ( 892839 ) on Saturday April 14, 2018 @11:59PM (#56439561) Journal
    Start webpage. Something you have total control over.
    Add blog, forum, live chat support. IRC. A gui for browser web chat. Video updates for your site.
    Live webcam chat with a groups of supporters.
    Translations. Have a list of contact details for your site. From security to press, media, general questions, offers of support.

    Someone wants to do an interview at 2 am from their part of the world? Do it. Thank them and be ready for lots of different questions.
    Be ready for video, sound only, the need for lights, a mic and a good background setting on video chat.
    Ensure a good internet connection with another way to connect on the day of the interview.

    Someone sends in a security question. Thank them. Given them a clear time line of how the issue will be responded to quickly. Days, weeks, months.
    Show them the results and ask if they want recognition. Thank them again. Update any blog, security comments as needed over time.

    Set out how the project will be worked on and show progress.
    Update the blog every day. Have more detail over weeks and months. Video clips.

    Keep control over your forum, your blog, your clips. Sites and social media can change their TOS at anytime so social medias offer of "free" and lots of "ads" can change at any time.
    Read all TOS on any hosting and code site and what owners have set out as their politics and conditions when using their site, tools.
    Upload examples, a guide, FAQ and what is supported so people can get an overview. Then how to support the project.
  • You don't, without something that works.

    Mozilla was pure mental masterbation for years, until it was possible for someone outside the company to build a working version of a browser.

    Until and unless that happens, you've merely "declared a project", and like most such projects on SourceForge or GitHub -- absolutely no one will give a damn, until you ive them the power to tinker.

    And you will not do that without working code.

    By the way: if you are actually a UNIX/Linux systems programmer... it will take you le

  • insomnia sucks...

    Get something working (even if it only is 1% of what the real thing is supposed to do.) put it up on github.com. Make sure the build/test environment works on Linux, because that's where likely contributors are. Tell people about it. If it really is a world-changing idea, someone will care, and may contribute.

    I have done a handful of open source projects. I'm convinced some of them are really cool, but they're niche, and it is very rare to get any help. In Startup jargon, they talk ab

  • Linus Torvalds was able to leverage the enthusiasm of the Internet to make Linux exist

    No he wasn't. He brought Linux together all on his own without external help. Once he did so the enthusiasm of the internet made Linux popular.

  • You can pay people to do something that won't matter in the end, but unpaid volunteers need some more substantial justification for the time and effort they invest. Better than to start a new effort from scratch would be to distill the aspects of this idea that are new and better than existing compilers, and take those to the community surrounding an existing open-source effort, such as http://llvm.org/ [llvm.org]
  • Money

    By paying people to develop your compiler, you're taking some of the workload off your back, and putting it on someone elses, in exchange for money. If you employ enough people, and keep the source code proprietary, you could then sell licenses to your compiler and generate a profit.

    Many technology companies use similar tactics to generate income.
  • I have the same problem as you with my ideas for "Loyc" projects at http://loyc.net/ [loyc.net] - they gather very little interest. As a consequence, I've lost enthusiasm for my projects and subsequently they've had little progress. I suspect the problem is that people don't want to really look at or help with a project until it is already fairly mature. It could also be that everybody's too busy trying to make a living. But perhaps I haven't marketed my ideas well enough or done a good enough job explaining what I wa

The party adjourned to a hot tub, yes. Fully clothed, I might add. -- IBM employee, testifying in California State Supreme Court