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[REBOL] Re: Tools for Rebol Coders

From: greggirwin:mindspring at: 8-Jan-2002 11:48

Hi Sunanda, et al I didn't jump in on the style thread, but I can include my thoughts here as they are applicable in this context as well. << -- I write some code that calls something from your site that calls something from someone else's. And at some point it crashes with an "Error near a / b". Is that my code or yours or the other person's or a Rebol-supplied mezzanine function? I don't care how un-purist it is to expect the call stack to be printed. But I need it at this point or the application is dead in the water. >> I think this points out that we, as REBOL developers, need to take into account the context in which our code is intended to be used. I can appreciate being able to write simple reblets that are self-contained and often times may get by with a minimum of error handling and formal design. If you are writing code to be used in distributed applications, you darn well better have everything error trapped and be as helpful as possible when it comes to tracking down errors. I think Design by Contract will be enormously helpful in that regard but I haven't had time to work up a dialect implementing it yet. That said, I think call stack information could be very useful in certain cases as well. << -- I think we've all agreed that we find different styles harder to read than others. So if you and I are collaboratively developing code, I'd want to prettyprint yours into a style I prefer, and you'd do the same with mine. This would open doors to collaborative programming. >> I'm not sure about this. My thoughts about style are based on only 6 months of experience with REBOL, and I have yet to find my REBOL "voice". What I *am* finding, is that I use different styles in different contexts. The style I use when writing in the Layout dialect is different than what I use when writing in my FSM dialect. For pure REBOL code, I have some code that is very much block style (style B) but I have other code which is very concise. I think that my goal will be to write code is that easily understood, and easily maintained and I don't know that a single "style" will be the best fit in all cases for REBOL code. For example, if you are writing a novel, you would use a different style than if you were writing an instruction manual or a "How To" booklet. Writing an article for a technical journal would be different still. You may also have a large amount of data mixed in with your code (think Easy-VID, or embedded instructions in an app), what do you do with the data, style wise? How easy something is to maintain doesn't necessarily mean that updates requiring the minimum number of keystrokes are the best. I believe in making the behavior and *intent* as clear and obvious as possible, which doesn't necessarily lock you in to a single style with REBOL nearly as much as with other languages, IMO. If we go down the pretty-printer route, it will dissect a carefully formatted program modeled on the idea of "Literate Programming" and possibly destroy all the structure and meaning contained therein. Yes, that's an extreme example, but I think REBOL will really change the way *I* write programs (it already has) and eventually we'll discover more appropriate tools, which aren't necessarily based on tools we've used for other languages historically. A pretty-printer could still be useful for a certain body of code, to be sure, but there are wide variety of styles in the library and I don't think the style someone used has anything to do with how easily I can decipher the code. The overall organization of a script affects that to a much greater extent. I.e. the more I have to keep in my head, which isn't visible on the screen I'm looking at, the more difficult it is to decipher. Just some thoughts from a baby REBOL. :) --Gregg