The Caml Consortium: Federating Industrial and Academic Partners
around a Free Programming Language
by Michel Mauny
INRIA has recently launched the Caml Consortium, gathering industrial and academic partners around the development and the promotion of the Caml programming language and its open source implementations.
Free software is now recognised as an efficient way for promoting new software techniques and products. However, when those techniques and products emerge from academic research groups, there still remains a further step to be taken before being accepted by industry. This is particularly the case for programming languages, where the choice of a particular language doesnt depend only on the intrinsic qualities of the language and of its compilers. Questions such as: the continuity of the programming environment, the user base, the volume of existing code, and the availability of programmers are just as important, if not more.
In order to bring answers to such questions for the Caml programming language (see the related article in ERCIM News no. 36), INRIA recently decided to launch the Caml Consortium, whose aim is to gather highly motivated users around the development and the promotion of the Caml programming language and related tools.
This language and its best-known implementation, the Objective Caml system whose qualities are widely acknowledged, enable substantial gains in productivity to be obtained. This is due to its great expressiveness and to the static verifications carried out by the compiler which detects the majority of programming errors even before the program is run.
The Caml Consortium tries therefore to bring together, around the language development team, industries, research centres and educational institutions interested in contributing to the design and development of the language and related tools. The Consortium is designed as a place where the members can identify their common requirements, exchange their experiences and solutions, and co-operate to propose particular developments of general interest. One of the Consortiums roles is to stimulate information exchange between users. It is here that a true community will be created with the specific intention of assisting in the development of the language and to provide it with such a visibility that this community will expand by itself.
The motivation and industrial importance of its members should also attract to the Consortium companies which want to be present on the Caml applications and training market. Another role of the Consortium will therefore be to attract new members, whether they are users of the language or service providers.
Caml consortium website: http://caml.inria.fr/consortium/
Michel Mauny, INRIA
Tel: +33 1 39 63 57 96