Wednesday, October 10, 2007

What to do...

Got an interesting idea recently, but I don't know what to code it in. See, you have technology like LaTeX where you can author professional documents using an ASCII text editor. Why not do the same for spreadsheets? Wouldn't it be nice to be able to generate a simple text document and generate the results using a small program?

Yeah, I thought it would be a good idea, especially for scientific applications with large amounts of data. No sense in using a heavyweight program for crunching a ton of numbers.

Anyway, back to the problem: what do I code it in. There are two major portions to this: extracting the data from the data files and performing the actual calculations. My first thought was to use Lua since it's very fast and there is a arbitrary precision math library available for it. However, it isn't the greatest for string manipulation, thus making it a bit harder to extract the data. Perl, on the other hand, is a bit slower overall, however it has great string manipulation capabilities. Specifically, it has a split function, which would be very important for this. It also has an arbitrary precision math library.

Now, to add to the mix a bit, I already know Perl and was going to use this as an excuse to learn Lua, but if it's not the best tool, I probably shouldn't use it.