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Learning Dylan

Dylan differs from most mainstream languages in several subtle ways. If you're really immersed in how one particular language works, you'll have to let go of some of your knowledge. Dylan's generic functions and access control, for example, are probably unfamiliar. You'll have to learn these all over again, but will be rewarded with more flexibility when you do.

We recommend using the Open Dylan "Interactor" when you first start learning Dylan since it provides instant feedback. (The Interactor is analogous to a Lisp Listener or a Python REPL.) Open Dylan also allows downloading code into running applications, which can be extremely useful when learning the language and making many rapid modifications.

The following references might be good places to start:

12 Dylan Fragments

Twelve standalone code fragments show off the features of the Dylan programming language. If you want to get a feel for things, this might be a good place to start.

Dylan Programming: An Object-Oriented and Dynamic Language [paper, US$30.95]

A good Dylan tutorial by several Harlequin employees. This goes into much more detail than any of the online resources. The known issue with the book is that statements like if and case are not explained until chapter 11.5, whereas they were probably better introduced around chapter 5. But that's just a minor inconvenience. If you want to read an introductory book, Dylan Programming is your best bet.

A First Look at Dylan: Classes, Functions, and Modules

Steve Strassmann wrote a brief article on Dylan for develop. It covers classes, functions and modules, and provides good examples.

Advanced Dylan Tutorial (split version)

A quick and dirty introduction to Dylan for reasonably skilled programmers. It covers the diffences between Dylan and other popular programming languages. Some of the later chapters are unfinished, and the examples feel contrived.

The Dylan Reference Manual

The official Dylan reference, available online or as a well-bound softcover book. If you're the type who likes to go right to the language reference to learn, then by all means go here first, but most people seem to agree this isn't the easiest way to learn Dylan. If you already know a smattering of Dylan, and can only get one book, this is your best bet.

Building Applications Using DUIM

A tutorial on building GUIs in Dylan. DUIM (the Dylan User Interface Manager) is a library designed by Harlequin/Functional Objects for building portable user interfaces. We support a limited subset of DUIM using the GTK+ 1.2 widget set.

Converting Common Lisp to Dylan

A set of notes on the pitfalls of translating a Common Lisp program into Dylan. Should be of interest to people wishing to migrate Allegroserv or other CL applications.

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