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[REBOL] Re: Style R flavour checker ;-)

From: joel:neely:fedex at: 9-Jan-2002 16:09

Hi, Pat, and all, pat665 wrote:
> Hi, all > > I'am afraid that this is becoming a sensitive matter. I would > not like to see a war starting between the rebol-listers. >
I agree (with both statements).
> I cannot recall who started this... >
Blame me, but first reread my original post: This is a controversial and sensitive subject with some folks. I'm not trying to start a flame war, and I have no interest in debating aesthetic opinions. I *am* very interested in objective criteria which identify strengths and weaknesses of the alternatives. I was planning on waiting a while before trying to summarize my observations of the discussion, but I agree with Pat's perception that the temperature is rising a bit fast. Dijkstra has often used the phrase "separation of concerns" in discussions on software development. He distinguishes what he calls the "mathematical" concerns -- whether a program behaves correctly/accurately -- from "engineering" concerns -- whether the program exhibits appropriate economies in its behavior. While a good programmer is concerned with both, it is appropriate to know at any moment *which* of these issues one may be most directly engaging, and to be able to discuss them separately. (I believe it was Don Knuth who observed that, in programming, premature optimization is the root of all evil .) Since programming languages induce subcultures, it seems to me that any discussion of stylistic issues involving a specific language engages three separate areas of concern: 1) Objective -- things that can be measured (even if statistically, in a human factors sense) in a non-ambiguous manner; e.g. how many lines are required for a given piece of source code, depending on formatting style. 2) Personal -- things that are a matter of individual preference, aesthetics, taste, etc.; e.g. my previously-mentioned personal dislike for all-upper-case text. 3) Cultural -- things that are a matter of tradition, convention, custom, etc., within a specific society; e.g. the practice within the REBOL community of indenting by 4 spaces per level of nesting. I began experimenting with layout to see whether there was a way to increase the amount of content within a given area of real estate, whether editor screen, browser window, or printed page. I was focused on #1 above. I'm very aware that factors #2 and #3 are entangled in anything with as much personal choice and feeling as how one writes code, but I see some value in applying separation of concerns to the discussion of this issue (as well as many other programming topics). I'll leave it to each individual to read this thread and think about how much of #1, #2, and #3 are present in the various parts of the discussion. I think it is ironic that the "layout style" thread occurred concurrently with another instance of a topic that re-appears every few months on this mailing list: the issue of promoting REBOL in our various environments. I suggest that there are some instructive parallels. A suggestion that we look at an alternative layout style was met with a variety of reactions: - "Interesting!" - "I like it!" - "I don't like it!" - "I don't see the point." - "What we've always done is good enough." - "Here's an apparent limitation.", followed by "Here's a way to deal with that." - "Why are you rocking the boat?" A suggestion that a development team already using Java, Python, Perl, c++, (or whatever...) consider another programming language (REBOL) is often met with responses that boil down to the same reactions as those above. Perhaps a look within ourselves, and at our reactions to the idea of change will give us some insight into how others respond when ask them to take a look at REBOL (another kind of change). My thanks to everyone who has contributed to the discussion. Again, let me say that my motivation wasn't to "own" a new style, nor to rock the boat unnecessarily, but to discuss whether a style that evolved within the Algol heritage was the best approach for a very non-Algol-like language. -jn- P.S.: I'll gladly comply with the judgement of the editor-in-chief as to whether the refactoring article should be resubmitted with the examples in a more conventional style.