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Developed in the 1990s by a team of engineers at Apple, the Dylan programming language is a direct descendant of Scheme and the Common Lisp Object System (CLOS), without the Lisp syntax.

First appearing in 1992, the original implementation of Dylan was known as Apple Dylan. It was developed by Apple Computer from 1992 to 1995, at Apple Cambridge, formerly Coral Software, developers of Macintosh Common Lisp. The original language had much in common with Lisp.

Initially, it was developed with the intent of being the primary language of the Apple Newton; however, when that project was ordered into production earlier than expected, Dylan was not yet ready for release, so a new operating system for the Newton was written in C++.

When Dylan was repositioned as a desktop programming system for the classic Mac OS, this led to a significant change in syntax to a more C-like syntax, making it more appealing to programmers familiar with other languages. The resulting system was making progress when it was canceled in April of 1995. Work continued for another six months to produce the Apple Dylan Technology Release, the first and only official Apple version of the system.

The development of Dylan was reworked for general computer programming. Andrew Shalit, David A. Moon, and Orca Starbuck wrote the Dylan Reference Manual, which formed a basis for work at Harlequin, a Cambridge software company, and Carnegie Mellon University. When Apple ceased development of the language, several members went to Harlequin, which produces a working compiler and development environment for Microsoft Windows.

When Harlequin was bought out and split, some of the developers founded Functional Objects, and, in 2003, the firm contributed its repository to the Dylan open source community, forming the foundation of the free and open-source software, Open Dylan, a Dylan implementation.

Carnegie Mellon University stopped working on their Dylan implementation because Apple was no longer sponsoring the project. Its implementation, known as the Gwydion Project, was taken over by the Dylan community as the open-source model of Project Gwydion Dylan.

Today, Gwydion Dylan and Open Dylan are the only working Dylan compilers. Gwydion Dylan is a Dylan-to-C compiler, while Open Dylan produces native code for Intel processors.

Influenced by Common Lisp, Scheme, ALGOL, and EuLisp, Dylan adds an integrated object system derived from CLOS. All values, including numbers, characters, functions, and classes, are first-class objects. The programming language supports multiple inheritance, polymorphism, multiple dispatch, keyword arguments, object introspection, pattern-based syntax extension macros, and other advanced features.

Its main design goal is to be a dynamic programming language, suited for developing commercial software. Dylan attempts to address potential performance issues through the introduction of natural limits to the full flexibility of Lisp systems. This allows the compiler to clearly understand compilable units, such as libraries.

Although Dylan was influenced heavily by Scheme and other Lisp languages, it has an ALGOL-like syntax rather than a Lisp-like syntax.

Topics related to the Dylan programming language, including compilers, IDEs, editors, implementations, guides and tutorials, courses on programming in Dylan, forums, and developer communities focused on the Dylan programming language, are listed in this portion of our web guide.



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