I think it is a killer feature in a round-about way. I believe the killer feature is actually generic and robust database integration. There's a whole lot of people who start with data on hand and need to hack together an app from there. The starting point to db integration is racket, which also gets you access to other libraries. Once in place arc libs can be created eliminating a need to even learn racket (just like there are plenty of clojure programmers who don't know java).
IMO doing package integration first is putting the cart before the horse.
> the killer feature is actually generic and robust database integration
That could be a killer feature, but I don't think we have it developed yet. I certainly wouldn't have thought of it. Basically, when I say "killer feature", I'm thinking of the specialization or distinguishing characteristic that we would emphasize in a Quick Start tutorial.
When arc was first launched, the "arc challenge" of building a multi-action website with a form in only ~5 lines of code was the "special feature." Right now, I think hackability and simplicity of the syntax are two of the better things, but we could probably specialize on more.
> IMO doing package integration first is putting the cart before the horse
The purpose for working on package integration is to enable further development. Without the ability to share code easily, it's a lot harder to build on and benefit from community effort. In itself, I agree, a package manager is boring and probably not a killer feature. However, making it really easy to start building something useful by searching for and loading relevant code straight from the interactive console would be a pretty big step.
Perhaps the specialty I'm looking for is exploratory programming, which we've mentioned before. Our interactive help system is pretty good. The only problem others have mentioned before was that Python is arguably better, just because there are already examples and libraries for doing most activities, whereas Arc requires a lot of development effort just to get fundamental components working.
Well there's that, but honestly... exploratory programming with a tool that can't provide basic functionality will limit how much you can explore. I think you mean 'language design exploration'? - if so I'll stop right there, since, well, frankly... it's not my wheelhouse. :)
> package integration first is putting the cart before the horse
I'm simply saying that features like db integration bring users, users bring manpower, manpower will provide package management in a way that ensures it accounts for more use cases, but again this is moot if what you're interested in is only the language development arena. Though I'm not sure how you could prove out a language unless you can actually use it for real world work.
P.S. If you want users, then killer feature would = todo list mobile app with local db in 30 lines of code!
> exploratory programming with a tool that can't provide basic functionality will limit how much you can explore
Absolutely true, which is why I do think the Racket integration is important, so we can just wrap its many and powerful libraries in lighter-weight arc libs, and also why I think a decent package system is important. It needs to be easy to share code, and to find solutions to problems. Otherwise everyone spends too much time rebuilding the same wheels.
> features like db integration bring users
Absolutely. I think better db support in arc would be awesome to have. Especially if we can build an ecosystem where "intelligent defaults" are the norm, so that 90% of the time the exploratory developer can get a db up and running with 1-2 lines.
> todo list mobile app with local db in 30 lines of code
An admirable goal. That's actually a great idea of something we could work toward as a community project, each building pieces that eventually come together to make a decent modern app.
> Were you thinking a mobile friendly web app, or trying to run it natively on a phone?
The java/js ecosystem has the largest reach making it the easy choice. One could work on a js compiler and target pouchDB as a starting point. That said choosing js also makes Arc go further down the path Clojure has already gone putting the two closer together, and with Clojure being so far ahead in that arena then maybe it's doomed to fail. The other way to go is to do what Clojure is not great at. iOS development? maybe integration with swift? At any rate I'm not a language development guy. I can only tell you what would appeal to me. I mostly use Clojure and a really easy to use arc->iOS app development ecosystem would be really cool.
> Without the ability to share code easily, it's a lot harder to build on and benefit from community effort.
I've just been dumping my Arc experiments into the Anarki repository. Akkartik manages it by the policy that pretty much anyone can commit anything, so I haven't had any issues sharing my code. I've recently put a Puredata compiler in Arc in there, https://github.com/arclanguage/anarki/blob/master/lib/pd.arc
The interactive help in Anarki is great, although there are some undocumented functions. A great improvement, which would be very easy to implement, would be to add the documentation from the various Arc sites to the Anarki interactive help.