When comparing Ceylon vs Rebol, the Slant community recommends Rebol for most people. In the question“What is the best programming language to learn first?” Rebol is ranked 34th while Ceylon is ranked 36th. The most important reason people chose Rebol is:
Almost natural language, for example: `write %out.html read http://google.com`.
Ranked in these QuestionsQuestion Ranking
Pro Strong static typing, null safe and flexible, almost dynamic type system
The compiler prevents you from using a potentially null variable, unless you check it is not null. Ie. it forces you to check a potentially null value before using it.
The type system is strict, but flexible, allowing union and intersection of types, covariant and contravariant types, reified types, etc.
Type inference and union types allows a dynamic programming style, close of JS spirit.
It brings type safety to JS, allowing to define interfaces to existing JS APIs, yet using the
dynamic keyword for flexible calls in the JS ecosystem.
Pro Excellent IDE support
Ceylon has reified generics, so it doesn't loose the type of collections at runtime. This makes autocompletion, debugging, etc. first-class. The Eclipse plugin makes it a full-fledged Ceylon IDE, and an IntelliJ IDEA plugin is in the works.
Pro Great tutorial
Gavin King, main author of the language, has a great, clear technical writing style, making understandable difficult concepts like variance or sound type system.
Pro Try it out in the browser
It has a Web IDE: http://try.ceylon-lang.org/ with impressive demos: http://try.ceylon-lang.org/?gist=bd41b47f325b6d32514a so you can try it without installing anything, and see the JS generation / interop in action.
Pro Excellent documentation
The language specification is very complete and up to date; also, the language module is very well documented.
Pro Easy to learn even if you don't have prior programming experience
Ceylon is indeed fairly easy and readable. Of course those ones who know OOP and a bit of functional programming concepts will feel almost at home right from the start.
Pro Generate HTML
HTML generation is supported right in the SDK.
Pro Same code in backend and frontend
Pro Human friendly
Almost natural language, for example:
write %out.html read http://google.com.
Code is data, and data can be code. Rebol is based on a simple block data structure, used both for data and for the code itself. Blocks can be manipulated programmatically, and then evaluated as code. This makes metaprogramming easy in Rebol.
Pro Graphical user interface
Beginners are usually stuck making command-line applications in other languages, because GUIs are too hard. Rebol GUIs are easy enough to start with.
Pro Very simple syntax
Rebol's name came from "Relative Expression Based Object Language". Rebol is a functional language and everything is an expression that returns a value. Things that have to be baked into the grammar in other languages are simple function calls with block arguments in Rebol.
Pro Domain specific languages
Rebol's simple homoiconic syntax makes it easy to create "Rebol dialects"--domain-specific languages optimized for a particular purpose. The Rebol distribution includes many of these, and users are free to create more. These DSLs make tasks that would be complicated to express in other languages easy.
Con Lack of physical or electronic books
We should hope Red Hat or anyone interested would take the time and write one. That would strengthen the maturity of the language, but Ceylon is rapidly developing which can make the author's efforts futile because his or hers work will become obsolete soon.
The second hindrance is, of course, popularity of the language which can't give much to the pockets of the author (however, Dart's unpopularity at start didn't prevent it to have a lot of printed material, but that's Google's child, we know).
Con Currently has large runtime
Ceylon 1.2 needs a language runtime of 1.55 MiB, and the Collection library adds another 370 KiB. That's a lot for the Web...
Now, this has to be put in perspective: if you use Ceylon to make a web application, these files will be loaded once, then cached by the browser (that's not casual browsing).
Moreover, most servers compress such resource, and the numbers become respectively 234 KiB and 54 KiB, which is more reasonable...
Con No separators
A function call expression has no parentheses, and there are no separators between sequenced expressions, not even newlines. This means that you have to know the arity of every function in an expression to know how to parse it. It also means you can run into subtle, hard-to-find bugs if you don't provide enough arguments, since the result of the next expression will be passed instead.
Con Not (yet?) Free Software
Rebol 2's core is free (gratis) for commercial use, but the license prohibits modification, a violation of the DFSG. Rebol 3 is Free Software (Apache 2.0), but isn't production ready.