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LastCalc Is Open Sourced

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the ultimate-mathematicator dept.

Math 103

Sanity writes "LastCalc is a cross between Google Calculator, a spreadsheet, and a powerful functional programming language, all with a robust and flexible heuristic parser. It even lets you write functions that pull in data from elsewhere on the web. It's all wrapped up in a JQuery-based user interface that does as-you-type syntax highlighting. Today, LastCalc's creator, Ian Clarke (Freenet, Revver), has announced that LastCalc will be open sourced under the GNU Affero General Public License 'to accelerate development, spread the workload, and hopefully foster a vibrant volunteer community around the project.'"

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Too bad it's Affero (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39312929)

This is compelling but the use of Affero for the license makes onerous demands of the user. The implicit threat of a code audit is there.

Re:Too bad it's Affero (4, Interesting)

Sanity (1431) | more than 2 years ago | (#39312991)

This is compelling but the use of Affero for the license makes onerous demands of the user. The implicit threat of a code audit is there.

Can you elaborate? Which clauses specifically make onerous demands?

Re:Too bad it's Affero (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39313051)

The demands are only onerous to someone who is looking for code to run on a server as a service without having to make changes available. It's a good license that accomplishes what some authors want. Personally I prefer the BSD license for code I write, because I don't demand others share their changes unless they wish to. But not all authors wish to offer that choice, as they want changes to be shared. I really don't see the BSD vs. GPL vs. LGPL vs AGLP battles so many developers get involved in. Each offers freedoms and responsibilities, a different menu with each license. The author gets to choose. And the user of the code can choose to agree and use the code, meeting the obligations required, or choose not to use it. So simple, so easy.

I won't be using LastCalc because I don't want to bother having to deal with the required responsibilities. If I wish to develop an application with that sort of functionality, I will likely write the code myself from scratch and share it BSD-style. Choices. I like having them. I'm grateful that others offer me open source choices. I'm glad that I have such a wide palette of choices to choose as a developer and as a code user.

Re:Too bad it's Affero (1)

Sanity (1431) | more than 2 years ago | (#39313201)

I'm fairly sure that merely using LastCalc (ie. being a user of the web service) doesn't impose any responsibilities.

Re:Too bad it's Affero (4, Informative)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 2 years ago | (#39313235)

Being a user doesn't, but hosting it does. That's the difference between the GPL and AGPL.

Re:Too bad it's Affero (4, Informative)

hairyfeet (841228) | more than 2 years ago | (#39313739)

Since you seem to know, can you give a brief description of the difference between AGPL, GPL, and MPL for us common folk please? there seem to be a shitzillion licenses out there but those 3 along with BSD (which is easy to follow, its pretty much a "give credit where credit is due" kinda thing) look to be the biggies but knowing what makes one different (and thus incompatible) from the others is hard to keep up with. I know MPL allows copyrighted images, is that the only difference? Is AGPL mainly focused on hosted code? Someone really should make a handy chart for those of us that aren't programmers by trade so we can easily spot the differences.

Re:Too bad it's Affero (4, Informative)

bhtooefr (649901) | more than 2 years ago | (#39314359)

AGPL is like GPL, but with the additional restriction that you must share source code to users when hosting it on a public-facing server, IIRC.

Re:Too bad it's Affero (2, Insightful)

Ly4 (2353328) | more than 2 years ago | (#39315491)

That's basically it, but note that 'source code' could be interpreted as every last line of code for your web site.

It's part of the murkiness in trying to describe 'modification'. Does that mean code that you've added to the original? When does that stop?

Limiting the definition of modification is the main point of the LGPL. But there isn't an LGPL-like variation of the Affero license. And without that, there are a number of situations where AGPL code is simply unusable, regardless of whether you make any changes.

Re:Too bad it's Affero (1)

Aighearach (97333) | more than 2 years ago | (#39316563)

It's part of the murkiness in trying to describe 'modification'. Does that mean code that you've added to the original?

Yes

When does that stop?

Never

Re:Too bad it's Affero (1)

bhtooefr (649901) | more than 2 years ago | (#39317163)

I'd lean towards no, although I'd sequester the AGPL web app in its own directory.

After all, a closed source OS can bundle GPL software...

Re:Too bad it's Affero (1)

Ly4 (2353328) | more than 2 years ago | (#39317247)

Yeah, if you can isolate the AGPL code somehow, you've got a pretty good case for limiting the scope of 'modified code'.

It gets complicated when the AGPL code is a library that you want to link into your code. See my post below [slashdot.org] for an example of how that might play out.

Re:Too bad it's Affero (4, Informative)

kestasjk (933987) | more than 2 years ago | (#39315569)

Before the AGPL came out a BSD-licensed project of mine, webdiplomacy [webdiplomacy.net] , was used to build a fork site.
They apparently forgot to credit us, are closed source, and didn't even include the BSD license until they were discovered. Instead of sharing code back they're quite bitter rivals, holding their site hostage for donations and having premium accounts.

Since the AGPL came out there are several other fork sites that have sprung up, but we all pool code changes, and they all market themselves to different niches (e.g. variants or different languages). Many of them are for-profit and host large communities, but we all share code and benefit from it.

Re:Too bad it's Affero (1)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | more than 2 years ago | (#39316327)

Since you seem to know, can you give a brief description of the difference between AGPL, GPL

By way of example:

With GPL, if you want to take a web project, modify it heavily, and sell a service based on that software and its modifications, you can do that. You have no further obligations.

Under AGPL, to do the same thing, you need to contribute changes back to the project (effectively).

Re:Too bad it's Affero (2)

Ly4 (2353328) | more than 2 years ago | (#39316731)

An example of the downside of the AGPL:

You're running a website that's a discussion forum. You find a tiff-to-jpeg library that you want to use to convert member's avatar photos, so you call the library's 'convert' method.

Congratulations, you've just created a modification. Since the library was licensed under the AGPL, you now need to:

  • - release the code that calls the API.
  • - release the code that calls the code that calls the API.
  • - release any other code called by the code that calls the code that calls the API.
  • - release your build scripts
  • - release source for any other libraries you've invoked. That includes anything you purchased from a vendor.
  • - etc. You pretty much have to release your entire web site.

Now, you may not have any philosophical objections to releasing everything listed above, but just the logistics of determining the licenses of the existing source code could be enough to kill the idea.

Note that this example is not completely theoretical. </dontaskmehowiknowthis>

Re:Too bad it's Affero (1)

dfetter (2035) | more than 2 years ago | (#39318511)

You know someone was going to ask. It's me.

With what AGPL software did you run across this situation?

Re:Too bad it's Affero (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39323209)

AGPL is a fine choice. (2)

jbn-o (555068) | more than 2 years ago | (#39313345)

In other words, any FLOSS license is objectionable to those who wish to violate that license and make unauthorized derivatives. The AGPL and GPL, in particular, require equal treatment and reciprocity for all distributors. This is not onerous on the user or developer.

As to not seeing a "battle", that language overstates the case but you do probably see the differences among the licenses and you have apparently made your choice. Your choice is no more or less political than someone who chooses a strongly copylefted free software license such as the AGPL. Freedom of choice doesn't really explain anything. Choices are present in proprietary licenses too, thus highlighting how freedom of choice is a scam: The user's software freedoms are not respected nor is the open source development methodology present.

Re:AGPL is a fine choice. (1)

Daniel Phillips (238627) | more than 2 years ago | (#39313953)

any FLOSS license is objectionable to those who wish to violate that license and make unauthorized derivatives.

I don't know of any open source licence that restricts copying or making derivatives. Rather, distribution or in the case of Affero, interaction with users over a computer network, is not permitted if license terms are violated.

Re:AGPL is a fine choice. (1)

eric_herm (1231134) | more than 2 years ago | (#39316985)

If licenses term are violated, I think you lose the right to use the software under any licenses. That's the basis of most license :
"we grant you XXX under XXX conditions", meaning that if you do not fullfill the condition, you lose the right granted to you.

People should maybe read what they agree to do, beit for a Microsoft CLUF, or a Free Software license.

Re:AGPL is a fine choice. (1)

Daniel Phillips (238627) | more than 2 years ago | (#39317061)

If licenses term are violated, I think you lose the right to use the software under any licenses.

You think wrong. You need to get out there and actually read some open source licenses.

Re:AGPL is a fine choice. (4, Insightful)

steveha (103154) | more than 2 years ago | (#39314283)

In other words, any FLOSS license is objectionable to those who wish to violate that license and make unauthorized derivatives.

Wow, way to set up a straw man there.

Okay, any FLOSS license is objectionable to those who want to violate the license. Tautology, so I'm hardly going to argue with it. But "in other words" implies that this is a reasonable paraphrase of the GP post, which this is not.

Some FLOSS licenses are a pain even for people who don't want to violate licenses. Suppose I want to include a library in a proprietary closed-source project. With some licenses, I can just do it. With BSD + "advertising clause", I now have an obligation to put text in my program, to put text in my manual, and possibly to put text on my web site and on a product package; I also have to keep track of whether I did the text or not, and make sure it isn't accidentally removed or altered. And I'll tell you right now: non-hypothetically, I avoid any license with an "advertising clause" for the above reason. With LGPL, I explicitly have to allow my customers to reverse-engineer my code, which would be a problem with a commercial product using licensed code (some licensed code requires one to take steps to prevent reverse-engineering).

So, a higher post in this thread claimed that the requirements of Affero GPL include an "auditing" clause, which potentially places an annoying burden on anyone who hosts the Affero GPL code. I haven't reviewed the Affero GPL so I don't know if this is correct, but I assume it is because you engaged in a straw-man attack rather than just pointing out an error.

So with a few examples I have shown that some licenses are more burdensome than others. In fact it is only people who do care about obeying licenses who are burdened; people who are just planning to violate the licenses can violate Affero GPL as easily as any other.

As to not seeing a "battle", that language overstates the case but you do probably see the differences among the licenses and you have apparently made your choice. Your choice is no more or less political than someone who chooses a strongly copylefted free software license such as the AGPL. Freedom of choice doesn't really explain anything. Choices are present in proprietary licenses too, thus highlighting how freedom of choice is a scam: The user's software freedoms are not respected nor is the open source development methodology present.

I have read this paragraph three times and I am not sure what you were trying to say here. If it is important, please restate.

"Freedom of choice doesn't explain anything"? What?

steveha

Re:AGPL is a fine choice. (3, Interesting)

butalearner (1235200) | more than 2 years ago | (#39315389)

I used to prefer the various *GPL licenses until I read the OGRE development team's post [ogre3d.org] about switching from LGPL (plus a commercial license option) to MIT for version 1.7. The key paragraph for me was this:

While not requiring modified source to be released might initially seem like giving up an important motivator to contribute code back to the community, we’ve noticed something in recent years: 99% of useful code contributions come from people who are motivated to participate in the project regardless of what the license tells them they have to do. It’s our experience that a certain percentage of the user community will always participate and contribute back, and therefore encouraging adoption via simpler licensing is likely to result in more contributions overall than coersion via complex and restrictive licensing does. In addition, people who are internally motivated to participate tend to provide much higher quality and more usable contributions than those who only do it because they are forced to.

Re:AGPL is a fine choice. (3, Interesting)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 2 years ago | (#39316127)

It would take a very comprehensive piece of surveying work to say whether this in fact holds across the board; but my anecdotal impression is that the utility of legally enforced compliance may vary depending on what sort of software you are dealing with.

The area that comes to mind is embedded systems: a substantial number of assorted plastic SoC boxes running linux are user-modifiable today because their sellers were forced to provide sources under the GPL. Their firmware was often of rather low quality; but contained vital architectural details about the hardware that would otherwise have had to be inferred by comparatively arduous reverse engineering. In those situations, motivation is still better(one presumes that the manufacturers who are shipping *WRT firmwares are probably more helpful than the ones who stash a passive_agressive_GPL_compliance_blob.rar file somewhere in the dark corner of their support site); but bad code that provided enough information to port the better mainline-based 3rd party firmware was still useful.

In something like the OGRE case, there doesn't seem to be the analogous vital information, bad code would just be bad code, making enforced contribution considerably less useful.

I'd be interested to see if this pattern in fact holds, or if I am simply mistaken, and if there are any other categories that push strongly in one direction or the other; but I don't really have enough information to say...

GPL in embedded boxes (1)

steveha (103154) | more than 2 years ago | (#39316661)

a substantial number of assorted plastic SoC boxes running linux are user-modifiable today because their sellers were forced to provide sources under the GPL.

It's true. And it's pretty interesting!

The free software community developed a bunch of cool stuff under GPL. These manufacturers could have chosen to license some proprietary stack such as Windows CE, but they chose to use the cool GPL stuff. This cost them no money but imposed an obligation to share.

Then when they didn't share, some people threatened legal action, and they did share.

And I know that in at least the case of Linksys, their original router became very popular, and they likely sold far more units because hacker folks would buy them and customize them. Really this is a classic case of everybody winning.

Personally I think GPL v2 hits the sweet spot for a forced-sharing license: it requires the important things, isn't really onerous at all, and has been tested by the legal system and hasn't been ruled invalid. Linus Torvalds is also a fan; he said that releasing the source for Linux under GPL v2 was one of the best decisions he ever made.

steveha

Re:AGPL is a fine choice. (1)

eric_herm (1231134) | more than 2 years ago | (#39317057)

That's true than for different situation, there is different outcomes ( how shocking, I know ). We could also speak of the Apple case, of the fact that we have cyanogenmod also because some handset makers were forced to release source code.

The real question is "do you trust enough people to contribute back", and that's some negociation.

For example, one group could indeed see that a less stringent requirement would help some contributors ( usually, a company, but not only ) to contribute and so would be beneficial, and so using a BSD like license would help. And using the same exact source code, maybe the contributors would not care about sending upstream the changes, due to management policy, to not share with competitors, etc.

So the choice of license is not tied to the source code, but more to what you want to achieve, and the ecosystem around your software.
Some people leverage their copyright and the GPL to sell exception ( Canonical does it for Ubuntu-TV, if you read the small letters ), or to offers "entreprise version". Some do use BSD for the same outcome.

Some companies would not use GPL in their products, because they would be forced to contribute back and do not want ( be it for logistic, commercial or legal reasons ). On the other hand, some companies would not contribute back if that mean giving complete copyright to the owner if that's a competiting commercial entity, but have no problem to contribute to GPL or BSD besides that. Some companies even use GPL to be sure that their code is not taken by competitors.

It all boil down on what you think people will do in the future, IE, do you have a goal, a reason, a business plan around your software ? Can you trust people to not screw you, or if that happens, would it bother you ( depending how it happens ) ?

For example, OpenBSD people do not care about not having people contributing back, they prefer to have the software used everywhere so the internet is more secure. FSF people do prefer to make sure the source code can be seen and the knowledge is alive.

2 different group, 2 different goal, 2 different choice. So choosing a license is really up to you, to what you think will happen, based on what happened to you and others, and what you want to see happen. ( yes, that's slightly much more complex than "foo is good, bar is evil", sorry about the complexity of the world, I am sure we will try to fix that for the next version )

Re:AGPL is a fine choice. (1)

Vegemeister (1259976) | more than 2 years ago | (#39315399)

With LGPL, I explicitly have to allow my customers to reverse-engineer my code, which would be a problem with a commercial product using licensed code (some licensed code requires one to take steps to prevent reverse-engineering).

Attempting to prevent reverse engineering is a blatant "fuck you" to your customers. On their behalf, fuck you too.

Re:AGPL is a fine choice. (1)

steveha (103154) | more than 2 years ago | (#39316625)

Why don't you point that f-word at any companies who write that requirement into their licenses, rather than at me?

The specific example: I worked on a doomed project that was supposed to have DVD playback as one of its features. It turns out that when you sign the legal documents to legally license CSS, you need to agree to do all sorts of things: you must lock up the oh-so-secret CSS documentation (I never saw it myself), only full-time employees may see that oh-so-secret documentation, and... you are required to take steps to prevent reverse-engineering of the dread secret of CSS.

Mind you, one can buy a T-shirt [pcworld.com] with the dread secret of CSS printed on it. That horse has left the barn, the barn burned down, and condos were built on the site. But I didn't make this stuff up; the above is what I heard about the contractual requirements to implement CSS decryption.

So, because your opinion is so incredibly important to me, I am asking you: Do you have a problem with a company making software that can legally play DVDs? Please feel free to answer on behalf of any customers who might want to buy such software.

If it really riles you up, maybe you should arrange to have the DMCA repealed. If our product could have legally just used the CSS secret without signing any contracts, of course we would have done that.

steveha

If screw Hollywood then screw DRM and DVD (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 2 years ago | (#39321891)

Do you have a problem with a company making software that can legally play DVDs?

A lot of people do in fact have a problem with a company making software that can legally play DVD-Video. There exist alternatives to DVD-Video that lack digital restrictions management, and they lack DRM because their designers don't care about adoption by the mainstream United States motion picture distributors. So you can say screw DVD-Video if you're already saying screw Hollywood [youtube.com] .

Re:AGPL is a fine choice. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39318805)

Perhaps it is in your world. But we aren't all so lucky to be able to set the rules for ourselves. I make tools for mobilephone radio development. The radios are signed, and it is not allowed to temper with them, due to government regulation. So no lgpl libraries please....

Re:AGPL is a fine choice. (1)

jbn-o (555068) | more than 2 years ago | (#39316165)

Not a straw man at all. I'm simultaneously grateful for the freedom non-copylefted free software conveys to me and others and I see how these licenses mean contributing to proprietors like they were charities. Copylefted free software licenses such as the GPL and AGPL don't allow proprietary derivatives. This distinction gets to the heart of the difference between the free software and open source movements: the former movement distinguishes among licenses using "copyleft" because the free software movement wants to preserve software freedom for all computer users. The open source movement makes no distinction akin to "copyleft". So from a free software movement activist's perspective proprietor objections to the GPL and AGPL don't matter because proprietors have no intention of respecting user's software freedom. The open source movement isn't concerned with user's software freedom at all because that movement was founded to speak primarily to business software developmental methodology.

Freedom of choice doesn't help anyone understand what are critical points in the philosophical differences between the free software and open source movements. Freedom of choice won't help anyone see how the two movements philosophical differences have dramatically different consequences. Freedom of choice misframes a debate around what options a licensor has by positioning all licensing power alternatives as equivalent.

Re:AGPL is a fine choice. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39316457)

You really need to read up on what a straw man argument is. Here's an example:

... proprietor objections to the GPL and AGPL don't matter because proprietors have no intention of respecting user's software freedom ...

Here, you've ascribed motives and intent to your opponent, along with a label. That's the 'straw man'. You then argue against the straw man, rather than against anything that was actually said.

What is an aggregate (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 2 years ago | (#39321923)

The AGPL and GPL, in particular, require equal treatment and reciprocity for all distributors.

One problem with GPL family licenses is that it is not clear to what extent the programs installed in a single web site form "a larger program" as opposed to an "aggregate". The GPL leaves this vague on purpose [gnu.org] so that highly paid lawyers can hash it out in court.

Re:Too bad it's Affero (2)

Daniel Phillips (238627) | more than 2 years ago | (#39314011)

If I wish to develop an application with that sort of functionality, I will likely write the code myself from scratch and share it BSD-style.

Do you truly believe that will be easier than linking your Affero source? I am humbled by your software development prowess and look forward to enjoying your latest creation.

Re:Too bad it's Affero (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39313161)

This is compelling but the use of Affero for the license makes onerous demands of the user. The implicit threat of a code audit is there.

Can you elaborate? Which clauses specifically make onerous demands?

The clause that says that if you take LastCalc and turn it into a commercial product without releasing the code, someone can sue you?

Re:Too bad it's Affero (0)

Tranzistors (1180307) | more than 2 years ago | (#39312995)

This is compelling but the use of Affero for the license makes onerous demands of the user. The implicit threat of a code audit is there.

What demands on the user?

Re:Too bad it's Affero (2)

marcello_dl (667940) | more than 2 years ago | (#39313601)

If you contribute back changes, there is no need for code audit, as the functionality and bugs will be those you contributed. If somebody notices different functionality, and you don't want to contribute, that is VIOLATING the license, then shame on you. Problems? "write your own damn code", kthxbye.

Re:Too bad it's Affero (1)

Doctor_Jest (688315) | more than 2 years ago | (#39314145)

Well said. I often wonder how many BSD licensed projects could benefit from a bit of contributing of downstream fixes/enhancements. That's not to say they should change the license, it just sometimes makes me wonder what if. I'm sure some do have a robust community associated with them, but I suspect there are some that simply get mooched into commercial entities... the license permits that, but the spirit of the openness of BSD is being gamed by those only interesed in lining their pockets. :-/

I don't see why people are up in arms about the AGPL. It's not overly demanding if you aren't in the game to leech code and try to resell it for profit.

Re:Too bad it's Affero (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39313603)

Yeah, it makes it really hard to be a leech.

Re:Too bad it's Affero (1)

Daniel Phillips (238627) | more than 2 years ago | (#39313985)

This is compelling but the use of Affero for the license makes onerous demands of the user. The implicit threat of a code audit is there.

Utter rubbish. Show me where the Affero says anything about a code audit, or any onerous at all. Are you just uninformed, or was that just a cynical troll as it seems?

Re:Too bad it's Affero (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39319151)

How unfortunate that you resort to calling someone a troll rather than addressing the substance of their concern. These days a troll is someone who disagrees with someone who then calls them a troll. It's call ad hominem attack. It's a mistake commonly made by those inexperienced in formal discussion.

For those who are curious (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39312985)

For those who are curious what Freenet [freenetproject.org] is: It's a distributed data store, which is censorship-resistant and allows to publish information anonymously.

Re:For those who are curious (1)

fizzer06 (1500649) | more than 2 years ago | (#39313057)

allows to publish information anonymously

Sounds like a great place to start rumors.

Re:For those who are curious (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39328941)

You mean like a Wiki? for Leaks?

Re:For those who are curious (2)

biodata (1981610) | more than 2 years ago | (#39313163)

How can it resist censorship when it is a .org? I thought the US government owned these.

Re:For those who are curious (1)

Sanity (1431) | more than 2 years ago | (#39313233)

It's software, the website is just one place you can obtain the software but there are others.

Re:For those who are curious (1)

nobaloney (1012719) | more than 2 years ago | (#39318431)

When the first TLDs were created, .org was meant to be used by non-profit organizations only. That requirement was dropped a long time ago, though some of us still like to use our .org domains for sites that at least obey it's spirit.

Perhaps you're thinking of .gov.

Re:For those who are curious (1)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 2 years ago | (#39313513)

Everyone should be taught what it is, and use it. While we still can.

Must be Lisp under the hood (1)

istartedi (132515) | more than 2 years ago | (#39313037)

Enter:

Bar Blah = Bar Blah
Bar 5

Nested (((( hilarity ensues, presumeably when it hits a hard-coded recursion bailout.

Re:Must be Lisp under the hood (4, Informative)

Sanity (1431) | more than 2 years ago | (#39313075)

Yeah, you're confusing it with a recursive function definition, I've been meaning to fix that. I guess I'll fire up Eclipse (it's Java, not Lisp)

Re:Must be Lisp under the hood (4, Funny)

Sanity (1431) | more than 2 years ago | (#39313173)

Ok, just for you I risked borking the site during a slashdotting and I implemented a quick fix. You're welcome :-)

Re:Must be Lisp under the hood (1)

houstonbofh (602064) | more than 2 years ago | (#39313249)

Ok, just for you I risked borking the site during a slashdotting and I implemented a quick fix. You're welcome :-)

Not that takes some serious stones!

Re:Must be Lisp under the hood (4, Funny)

Sanity (1431) | more than 2 years ago | (#39313395)

Nah, just wanton irresponsibility :-)

Re:Must be Lisp under the hood (1)

istartedi (132515) | more than 2 years ago | (#39313975)

Since I'm totally new to it I might be doing something wrong. The simple example I posted before doesn't spew parens anymore so you obviously did something. This doesn't work though:

Factorial Number = if (Number <=1 ) then 1 else (Number * Factorial (Number -1))
Factorial 5

if ( 5 ( if ( 1 ( if ( 1 ( if ( 1 ( if ( 1 ( if ( 1 ( if ( 1 ( if (can't post due to Slashdot lameness filter, much stuff like ( 1 * <= ( 1 - 1 ) ) ) ) then 1 else then 1 else ( 5 * Factorial ( 5 - 1 ) )

Re:Must be Lisp under the hood (1)

anonymov (1768712) | more than 2 years ago | (#39314275)

Capital letters mean variables, evaluation is by rewriting and pattern matching.

Seems like it's trying to substitute every mention of Factorial for "if (Number

factorial Number = if (Number <=1 ) then 1 else (Number * factorial (Number -1))

this works

As well as this:

Number! = if (Number <=1 ) then 1 else (Number * (Number -1)!)
 
5!

You can even write something like "X plus Y minus Z = X+Y-Z" and ask it for "5 plus 4 minus 9"

Re:Must be Lisp under the hood (1)

istartedi (132515) | more than 2 years ago | (#39314367)

Ahhh. Makes sense sort of. I picked up on the "Arguments must be capitalized" thing, but not that functions must *not* be capitalized. It works fine for me when I don't capitalize the function.

Re:I implemented a quick fix (1)

TaoPhoenix (980487) | more than 2 years ago | (#39315263)

Hi Developer!

A minute ago I saw an explosion of parentheses and + signs, then they went away when I looked again.

Was there a bug going on?

Anyway, just for you!

( 11 * ( 4 Developers ) ) + ( 3 * ( 4 Developers ) ) + C mon + ( 8 * C ) + ( 3 * ( 4 Developers ) + LoveThatCity + ( 4 * ( 4 Developers ) ) + I got 4 words for ya + ( C mon * 5 ) + ( 21 * ( 4 Developers ) )

Let is? Let was? Something belongs to the let? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39313053)

Great. *Another* language, and most people are confused by the apostrophe.

Similar software (4, Interesting)

Twinbee (767046) | more than 2 years ago | (#39313253)

Calculators should be multi-line like this - it's so much easier to keep track of calculations. Similar to LastCalc is InstaCalc [instacalc.com] on the web and something on the Mac called Soulver [acqualia.com] which is also very impressive.

Shameless plug: I've been working tirelessly on something like this too for almost a year, and apart from lists and a couple of other minor features, is a bit like LastCalc on steroids:

OpalCalc [skytopia.com] (for Windows currently).

The screenshots should give an idea of what it can do, but to name a few things: it's even more like notepad, faster, can handle times/dates, and allow words in the sum (like saying "5 oranges * £10 = £50" ).

Re:Similar software (3, Interesting)

Sanity (1431) | more than 2 years ago | (#39313377)

Soulver was actually what inspired LastCalc, but I wanted to bring it to the web, and make it programmable.

OpalCalc looks neat, unlike Soulver it supports functions, and I'm sure it has a few features that LastCalc currently lacks.

However LastCalc has a few features that OpalCalc lacks too, such as support for higher-level datastructures like lists and maps, pattern matching (like Haskell), and the ability to pull data from the web to use in calculations.

So I'm not sure that I would describe OpalCalc as "LastCalc on steroids" by any stretch.

Re:Similar software (1)

Twinbee (767046) | more than 2 years ago | (#39313477)

There's a lot in the menus of OpalCalc too which isn't detailed on that page. I guess I'm a bit biased towards certain features (though yeah, lists and, 'structs' do sound very useful).

Anyway, always good to see more competition in this much neglected niche - thanks for making LastCalc!

Re:Similar software (2)

JustinOpinion (1246824) | more than 2 years ago | (#39313777)

LastCalc looks absolutely amazing! I love Google's ability to do on-the-fly math with unit conversion, and it seems that LastCalc is giving us this and more! It's great.

A question for you (or a feature request, I suppose): how do we add more information to the behind-the-scenes taxonomy? For instance, if I go "2*pi*1 nanometers in angstroms" it correctly converts from "nanometers" to "angstroms". However if I use "nm" instead, it doesn't know what I mean. Of course I can add a definition "1 nm = 10 angstroms" and from then on it works correctly... but I don't want to have to add that every time I use LastCalc!

Presumably you have a database behind-the-scenes with taxonomies for various units. Is there any way for end-users to edit that taxonomy (wiki-style), or perhaps submit new relations/data for inclusion? Now that you're open-sourcing this project, it seems like you could take advantage of community involvement to expand and refine the taxonomy, making the system ever-more-powerful. (I see you have a Google Group [google.com] ... so, is the intention that people just discuss this in the that forum? Seems like it would be more efficient to have a wiki or open database where people (even non-programmers) could contribute suggestions for units/relations/etc.)

Anyways, thanks for your efforts on what looks like a great project. I hope you keep it up!

Re:Similar software (2)

Sanity (1431) | more than 2 years ago | (#39314085)

You can just type:

X nm = (X*10) angstroms

The plan is that people will be able to define lots of functions like this, along with much more complicated ones, and then share them. The best of them will become part of the default vocabulary.

Please sign up for the mailing list if you'd like to keep up with developments (or, if you can code Java, perhaps you could help?!)

Re:Similar software (1)

Savantissimo (893682) | more than 2 years ago | (#39333121)

Or you could just use Frink [futureboy.us] , which is so cool in so many ways that even the highlights would be too long to list here. It will deal with pretty much any unit of measure or abbreviation, and additional temporary or permanent units can be added with minimum effort.

Silly examples:
cubic hectofurlongs / tropicalyear -> exascotswheatlippies / plutoyear
0.89894198315626957388

microgreatgross gilbert crocodile -> hp
1.8440377432226315066

Re:Similar software (2)

PieterGen (2592679) | more than 2 years ago | (#39313451)

Interesting, but I can't use it because I don't use Windows. Do you have plans to make it cross-platform (Linux/osx/win)?

Re:Similar software (1)

Twinbee (767046) | more than 2 years ago | (#39313659)

Not as such. But then if someone else is interested in porting it, I'd certainly consider it.

Re:Similar software (1)

bsidneysmith (2528890) | more than 2 years ago | (#39317737)

For a platform independent, multi-line, text-based calculator check out the Extensible Expression Evaluator [bsidneysmith.com] .

Re:Similar software (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39314019)

Why exactly is this called *Open*Calc?
This really implies that it's using an open source license. I was just checking out LastCalc, and the first thing I thought after reading your comment was "Awesome! Lets compare the source and see what one can learn from it" ... what a disappointment.

Re:Similar software (1)

Twinbee (767046) | more than 2 years ago | (#39314061)

'Opal', not 'Open'. Someone else made that mistake.

Quantrix? (2)

Burz (138833) | more than 2 years ago | (#39314037)

http://www.quantrix.com/ [quantrix.com]

If its similar to this then its very interesting, indeed.

Re:Similar software (1)

bcrowell (177657) | more than 2 years ago | (#39315967)

Unfortunately, none of these are open source.

Instacalc: "InstaCalc is for personal, non-commercial use only."

OpalCalc: Has a free demo, but it costs money to get the real version.

Soulver: Is shareware, puts a watermark on results if you don't pay for it.

Re:Similar software (1)

Twinbee (767046) | more than 2 years ago | (#39316289)

The 'demo' of opalcalc is still very functional. If you want the full version, you can pay any amount, and you'll still get it.

Re:Similar software (1)

bsidneysmith (2528890) | more than 2 years ago | (#39317705)

It's clear that in designing OpalCalc you were motivated by many of the same considerations that went into my design of the Extensible Expression Evaluator [bsidneysmith.com] . However, I realized that most of the important features could be gotten just by leveraging JavaScript's math library, with the result that it has a similar feature-set but is platform and (nearly) browser independent, there is nothing to download, and it is easy for users to adapt to their own purposes.

Re:Similar software (1)

Twinbee (767046) | more than 2 years ago | (#39318313)

From a quick play with EEE, I can't find that I am able to go back and adjust previous calculations. That was one of the things that made Soulver great.

For OpalCalc, I used Jint which is a Javascript library for C#. For porting purposes though, I find that I'm having to create my own RPN routine anyway. It's not all that bad tbh (unary minus was a pain to implement though).

is it wrong? (0)

Shavano (2541114) | more than 2 years ago | (#39313357)

Is it wrong that my first thought when I see this is

What's his plan to make money off all this free development help he's hoping go get?

Re:is it wrong? (1)

Sanity (1431) | more than 2 years ago | (#39313427)

Yeah, it kinda is. Did you ask that when Slashdot opened their codebase many years ago? How about when Reddit did it? What about Google with their various open source projects?

You should be glad that people open source things.

Re:is it wrong? (1)

tbird81 (946205) | more than 2 years ago | (#39313519)

Oh no, someone who might be trying to make money! What a bad thing to do! He must be stopped immediately.

Good on him for opening up the code base.

Re:is it wrong? (1)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 2 years ago | (#39313529)

And i hope he does make some money off it. He deserves it.

Re:is it wrong? (1)

Shavano (2541114) | more than 2 years ago | (#39315903)

Fine for you. His stated purpose in making it open-sourced is to get free help.

I am not an advocate in providing or asking for work that has commercial value for free.

Wow! Where can I get very own? (-1, Flamebait)

fred911 (83970) | more than 2 years ago | (#39313381)

Ya think Walmart's gunna have um? I don't no wut a flexible heuristic parser is but I just gotta have one. Probably almost as cool as my Casio watch calculator. And with all that high technology stuff.. Ya think it's got a tip calculator.. Sure hope it does. Wonder what it will cost.. Someone please let me no when they will release it.. I wana wait in line the night before, so i'm sure I get one.

oh yea one more thing. This a Affero General Public License that mean I gota
Be a black feller to buy it? Or is a caucasian license extra? Thanks

let's you write functions? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39313399)

It even let's you write functions that pull in data from elsewhere on the web.

Now if it could only correct your grammar.

Re:let's you write functions? (0, Flamebait)

Sanity (1431) | more than 2 years ago | (#39313435)

Or somehow silence grammar nazis...

Re:let's you write functions? (1)

ralphdaugherty (225648) | more than 2 years ago | (#39313581)

well said. Thanks for taking this project public.

Seriously? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39313403)

When you have R [r-project.org] , you hardly need any lousy calculators like this.

Too Qool for IE (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39313523)

Apparently the author is too Qool or too stupid to make this work with Internet Explorer.
Oh Well.
At least I found an interesting link to Opal Calc

It doesn't work properly (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39313555)

It's a mess. There are many 'equations' pre loaed with a lot of brackets e.g. (actual copy from the web site):

The Earth's radius
=
( ( The Earth ) ) s radius

Mac Graphing Calculator (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39313723)

Still looking for an open source equivalent of one of the greatest calculators ever written. It was bundled with OS8. This one "shows you the math". Every kid should have it.

It's got a really great geek story behind it too. If you don't already know this one, take a minute and enjoy.
http://www.pacifict.com/Story/ [pacifict.com]

JQuery? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39313763)

It's all wrapped up in a JQuery-based user interface

Too stupid to figure out how to code directly in Javascript? You don't care about code bloat and slowing down your own code?

Bad usability (1)

elvstone (86513) | more than 2 years ago | (#39314089)

I entered "2+2" and got back http://pastebin.com/hTzSBqWG [pastebin.com]

I think they need to work on their usability.

(Funnily enough I couldn't enter that inline because Slashdot said "Please use fewer 'junk' characters.")

Re:Bad usability (1)

bhtooefr (649901) | more than 2 years ago | (#39314471)

I'm getting the impression that it's one instance that all Slashdotters are using, and probably defining recursive functions to screw it up?

SAGE (2)

steveha (103154) | more than 2 years ago | (#39314297)

Anyone interested in LastCalc is probably also interested in SAGE:

http://sagemath.org/ [sagemath.org]

Basically this is every free math tool out there, glued together using Python, with a nice web "workbook" interface. It can make plots, do symbolic math, and all sorts of stuff.

Fun fact: someone ported TeX font rendering to JavaScript, and that is what SAGE uses to draw math equations in your browser.

steveha

Clear mod (1)

bmsleight (710084) | more than 2 years ago | (#39315119)

I modded in correctly, hence post to clear.

Typical slashdot thread (2)

oheso (898435) | more than 2 years ago | (#39315315)

Huge mud-slinging war about the license chosen and no one pointing out the thing is borked.

Software freedom trumps proprietorship every time. (1)

jbn-o (555068) | more than 2 years ago | (#39316189)

Software can be fixed if its license grants users the freedoms of free software. Therefore, users are better off with a broken free software program than a reliable proprietary program. The free software can be inspected, repaired, improved, and distributed instead of being under the thumb of the proprietor.

Re:Software freedom trumps proprietorship every ti (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39316759)

Why would any sane person try to repair 'borked broken' software, even if it's free.

If the idea was good, but the code bad, most will write their own implementation. If the code is of good quality, others might contribute to make it even better. There's nothing in between really. Maybe this revelation only makes sense if you have some programming experience, else it may need a car analogy i'm not too good at.

But the whole idea of 'i have this great idea, i wrote some crappy code as prove of concept, and now other great minds will automagically start improving it because i open-sourced it' is greatly misplaced. If it's worth bothering, it'd better be good from the start.

Epic fail (1)

tadas (34825) | more than 2 years ago | (#39315995)

I tried

1 furlong in feet =

and it couldn't come up with an answer. What good is it?

Similar to the Extensible Expression Evaluator (1)

bsidneysmith (2528890) | more than 2 years ago | (#39317645)

Had I known about this, I'd probably never have written my own. (Extensible Expression Evaluator, http://bsidneysmith.com/E3/extensible_expression_evaluator.aspx [bsidneysmith.com] ) Mine is less gee-whiz in some respects, but it is very accessible and intuitive, and I provide documentation to make it easy for a user to extend or customize its capabilities. It is also trivial to embed in one's own webpage, and is freely downloadable under the GNU GPL.

Juila Language (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39318065)

There's a brand-new language called Juila. It's targeted at the math crowd (Matlab, Mathematica, R, etc). It comes with a 'web shell' that can distribute calculations across a cluster of nodes.

https://github.com/JuliaLang/julia
https://github.com/JuliaLang/julialang.github.com/blob/master/blog/_posts/2012-02-14-why-we-created-julia.md

Lastcalc (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39324085)

43 years ago, back in 1969, I wrote a program for the IBM 360/30 that used the console typewriter as an input/output device that basically did what Lastcalc does now. Of course it didn't access information from the internet - it wasn't invented for another 30 years or so! However, five years later, in 1974, I did go on to program what was perhaps the world's first fully interactive WYSIWYG mainframe SPREADSHEET for Imperial Chemical Industries (I.C.I.) in Northwich, Cheshire, UK in 1974. It used IBM 3270 monitors (VDU's) - with a 24 by 80 column screen size - and allowed non-programmers to design and build what were essentially spreadsheet "sheets" with data cells linked by formulae - keyed in by the chemical engineers themselves (This was 5/6 years before Visicalc was produced (the supposed "invention" of spreadsheets by Americans Dan Bricklin and Bob Frankston). The System, known as the "Works Records System" ran for 27 years - without a single bug, until 2001.
Later, I assisted (as a user & forum contributor) in the creation of the web based spreadsheet "Editgrid" - which I genuinely believe is still the best around (far better than "Google Docs and spreadsheets" and really has the look and feel of EXCEL). It is entirely free to use and I recommend it. It too can extract data from other web pages like Lastcalc. I do like Lastcalc though - I think it will help kids learn about computers just like "SCRATCH" can .

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