Re: RE: [xsl] logical operators in *test*

Subject: Re: RE: [xsl] logical operators in *test*
From: Wendell Piez <wapiez@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Wed, 29 Oct 2003 13:45:07 -0500
At 11:48 AM 10/29/2003, Lawrence wrote:
I think you are missing Mike's point. It doesn't make any difference at all what development background you
come from - you don't learn any new programming language by guessing at syntax. Many C programmers learn C by
reading K&R's book (or one of thousands of others). They may have earlier used languages that used AND or OR,
but clearly that syntax is not going to get through any C compiler I've ever used.

True enough: but who hasn't ever guessed at this kind of thing? (Even, who hasn't guessed correctly, being encouraged thereby to guess again the next time?) The question isn't "why do people guess" but "why do people have a hard time finding this info"?

I actually don't think people have such a hard time finding it. It's just that along the way, finding out how to find it, they try some sub-optimal approaches. Like asking on a mailing list being received at over 2000 addresses. (Yes, folks. Would you stand up in an auditorium full of 2000 people and ask? I don't mean to frighten anyone ... Boo!) Eventually they get wise and have a copy of the Mulberry Quickref, and Mike's book, and a bookmark to DaveP's FAQ ... and the next thing you know, they're answering questions on the list, not asking them.

In the meantime, however, we have to put up with FAQs. There are two reasons why a question with a simple answer may be asked frequently:

1. The answer is simple, but not easy to find
2. The answer is simple and not hard to find, but many people are asking anyway

Mike's question is focussed on 1., but we shouldn't rule out 2. Why are many people asking? Maybe because many *many* people are learning XSLT. Accordingly, certain questions that seem easy once you know, but that require a bit of initiative and knowing-how-to-learn-a-new-programming-language (something we aren't born knowing, after all), just get asked frequently (up to a saturation point, one hopes).

So, many people are learning XSLT?! Or at any rate, coming here to do it. This list proves to be a very effective way to learn, exposing the neophyte simultaneously to a grand mix of easy and hard questions, allowing him or her to "swim" in the material at whatever level they feel comfortable, without having to be stared at. It works as well as it does, among other reasons, because we have a low threshold for asking *any* question -- which is generally a very good thing. Some "dumb" questions turn out to be very deep, and you don't want to discourage them.

I know we've lost some valuable contributors because they're tired of answering the same old same-old. But that doesn't bother me so much, since however we miss them, they get replaced by new blood, and presumably they're moving onto bigger things, so it's all good.

And in the meantime, it's incredibly valuable to have a place where people can learn how to learn this kind of stuff, and even make a few mistakes along the way.


====================================================================== Wendell Piez mailto:wapiez@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Mulberry Technologies, Inc. 17 West Jefferson Street Direct Phone: 301/315-9635 Suite 207 Phone: 301/315-9631 Rockville, MD 20850 Fax: 301/315-8285 ---------------------------------------------------------------------- Mulberry Technologies: A Consultancy Specializing in SGML and XML ======================================================================

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