HOPE X (2014): "Keeping Old Code Alive: The Venerable LambdaMOO Server in 2014" (DVD)
Sunday, July 20, 2014: 10:00 am (Olson): The LambdaMOO server, the application server that still powers the LambdaMOO online community and that was the engine for hundreds of other text-based virtual worlds (MUDs), was first released over 20 years ago, in 1991. MUDs (Multi-User Dungeons) were the first networked virtual worlds; and they were popular long before Second Life, Word of Warcraft, and MMORPGs in general made their appearance. Even though much of the code in the current LambdaMOO server is unchanged from the early 90s, people today still download the code, compile it, and build little worlds with it. Motivated by a desire to build simple little immersive experiments that users could interact with and extend via programming, but frustrated by LambdaMOO's lack of features as well as source code that was several decades away from modern best practices, Todd Sundsted spent the last four years modernizing the server, and building applications and a library of application building blocks. The result is a fork of the codebase called Stunt that speaks HTTP (instead of telnet), includes up-to-date cryptographic primitives, and sports language enhancements like multiple inheritance and garbage-collected, anonymous objects. On top of this platform, he built a simple, modern MVC web framework. In the process, he learned quite a bit about maintaining, evolving, and extending old code, and about interacting with a small but passionate community of longtime users! Sharing these learnings, rather than talking about the specific technical details, is the purpose of the presentation.