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[REBOL] Re: Periods as parts of rebol words?

From: greggirwin:mindspring at: 11-May-2002 11:15

Hi Joel, <<
> > Technically, you can do it. I personally don't think it's a > > good idea, for the following reason: REBOL is designed to be > > a good language for humans. >
I just don't buy this one, for a whole list of reasons, including the following samples:
Let me see if I can clarify my point a bit. << * There's nothing new about idea of having a programming language that is supposed to resemble natural so closely that humans of the non-programmer species can write code. Nonsense.
I didn't say REBOL was intended for non-programmers, or that any resemblance to natural language in any way endowed people not inclined to study the craft with the ability to write code. That's what dialects are for. :) << The same kinds of fatuous claims have been made for BASIC, SQL, spreadsheets and spreadsheet macro languages, and on and on and on... The claim was also made about FORTH that, as an extensible language, one could bootstrap up to a set of defined words that end users could employ as an interactive or scripted command language. This "impossible dream" has never worked, and IMHO never will. Humans can't write real, non-trivial programs without actually learning programming skills. Sugar-coating that fact is at best a waste of time and at worst deceptive.
Hmmm. I guess I like sugar coating. OTTOMH, I might say a programming language could be considered good for humans based on the number of non-programmers that are able to use it successfully. My justification for this is that, even though the holy grail of 'not requiring a computer programmer to program a computer' is an ideal we may never achieve completely, you have to admit that a lot of non-programmers are writing programs that do useful stuff these days, generally in sugar-coated languages. << * There are so many factors in the design of REBOL that already violate good human factors practice that the issue of dashes versus periods as intra-word punctuation just doesn't seem to be that significant. Such issues as ensuring referential transparency, consistency, the principle of least surprise, proportionality (things that make a big difference should look really different, things that don't make much difference shouldn't) and on and on and on...
I think it *is* significant (and I disagree with the argument that "it's got other problems so this won't make any difference"). The syntax is very important and is a separate issue from the semantics and behavior of a language. That said, I'm not saying that my view is the "right" way to see things for the example under discussion, just that it's my view. As you said, pick a style that you're comfortable with and that won't confuse the target audience. If there are standards in place, it's generally a good idea to follow them (assuming they make a modicum of sense). If you take a different path, have a reason. << Of course, if we're going to take this resemblance to natural language seriously...
I obviously created some confusion with my post in this regard. REBOL is, indeed, an artificial language. I'm not suggesting that it should strive to emulate natural language so much as it should strive *not* to emulate other artifical languages. ;) --Gregg