Book: The Standard ML Basis Library

SML is conservative by nature, erring on the side of rigor. The Basis Library has been a long time in the making, so I guess it's not surprising that it didn't raise much fanfare with the publication of The Standard ML Basis Library by Gansner & Reppy last year. In slowly plodding my way thru CTM in Alice-ML, figured it couldn't hurt to acquire the book.

Other than about 100 pages, the book is a hard copy of the manual pages which are available online. (To put a positive spin on the matter, we should probably be happy that their arduous work is freely available). I do prefer a hard copy reference, especially for a subject that is not likely to be outdated anytime soon. The book provides some additional background info and example usage here and there, but it doesn't have a strong narrative - meandering thru what was probably a number of decision points along the way. Been helpful in spots - but then I'm still trying to grok the language as a whole.

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Finally... a reference book

I find searching a book a lot easier than online web pages. I started my first "major" ML app (a prototype for a high performance distributed/shared message queue) before buying the Basis book and found that I had missed quite a few "rich" functions that would have made life easier.

Also, I don't think I would've made my way through the app without help from "Concurrent Programming in ML" by John Reppy (despite the online docs).

I guess I'm old fashioned. I still need my reference material in hardcopy!