Dylan (programming language)

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The Dylan programming language is a multi-paradigm language that includes support for functional and object-oriented programming, and is dynamic and reflective while providing a programming model designed to support efficient machine code generation, including fine-grained control over dynamic and static behaviors. It was created in the early 1990s by a group led by Apple Computer. “Dylan” is pronounced /ˈdɪlən/ ("dill-un"), like the surname of Bob Dylan.

Dylan derives from Scheme and Common Lisp and adds an integrated object system derived from the Common Lisp Object System (CLOS). In Dylan, all values (including numbers, characters, functions, and classes) are first-class objects. Dylan supports multiple inheritance, polymorphism, multiple dispatch, keyword arguments, object introspection, pattern-based syntax extension macros, and many other advanced features. Programs can express fine-grained control over dynamism, admitting programs that occupy a continuum between dynamic and static programming and supporting evolutionary development (allowing for rapid prototyping followed by incremental refinement and optimization).

Dylan's main design goal is to be a dynamic language well-suited for developing commercial software. Dylan attempts to address potential performance issues by introducing "natural" limits to the full flexibility of Lisp systems, allowing the compiler to clearly understand compilable units (i.e., libraries).

Although deriving much of its semantics from Scheme and other Lisps—some implementations were in fact initially built within existing Lisp systems—Dylan has an ALGOL-like syntax rather than a Scheme-like prefix syntax.



Dylan was created in the early 1990s by a group led by Apple Computer. At one point in its development it was intended for use with Apple's Newton computer, but the Dylan implementation did not reach sufficient maturity in time, and Newton instead used a combination of C and the NewtonScript developed by Walter Smith. Apple ended their Dylan development effort in 1995, though they made a "technology release" version available ("Apple Dylan TR1") that included an advanced IDE.

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