Re: Heresy? Re: DSSSL WWW Enhancements

Subject: Re: Heresy? Re: DSSSL WWW Enhancements
From: lex@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx (Alex Milowski)
Date: Mon, 19 May 1997 08:25:16 -0500 (CDT)
> > I don't see how you will be able to fit all of the Scheme functional style
> > into "some other syntax".  
> That's easy. There are several functional languages with infix syntax. The
> three most popular are Haskell, ML and Dylan. Note that in the early days,
> Lisp had two syntaxes, parenthesized and more traditional.

Ok, the answer to my question without researching it myself!  ;-)

> >It would seem to me that the goal for any
> > DSSSL-oriented developer for the mass market should be a good front-end.
> I don't think we'll get to that point unless it catches on with the Dirty
> Perl Hackers. Anyhow, there is a very large constituency between GUI-centric
> end users and open-minded "connoisseurs" of functional languages. Most 
> ordinary programmers and webmasters fall into that large middle ground. I
> am not content to cede them to incompatible technologies, nor to try to 
> convert them. The Lisp-people have been trying to persuade them with superior
> technology for *decades*.

Yes, true.

> > Technically, I don't see what we gain by changing the syntax.  A complex
> > style-sheet or transformation will not cease to be complex.  Hence, what is
> > the point?
> Nothing technically. That's why I said that it is a good choice for the
> core constituency of DSSSL, dedicated SGML-philes who are already used to
> using "different" technologies (otherwise why aren't we using HTML and TeX
> like everyone else). But to move the DSSSL model into the mainstream, we
> may have to provide an alternative DSSSL syntax.

Do we have to?  That is my question.  If we say that this is the *DSSSL* syntax
without dragging in the whole lisp/scheme debate, isn't that sufficient?

> > The fact that perl succeed with a rather cryptic language syntax suggests that
> > it is not the syntax but what the language can do that makes something
> > succeed.  
> Perl's syntax uses idioms familiar to Unix hackers. It is only cryptic to the
> uninformed. If I were Perl's core audience you can bet it would be 
> substantially less popular. The syntax and semantics are both gross!
> But to Unix hackers, Perl is just like coming home. =)

Yes, well, I'm a hardcode Unix hacker and I still think it is not a very good
syntax.  It is sufficient for me to do *many* things and that is why I use it.

> There is a very heavy anti-parenthesis bias out there. Its unfortunate and
> ignorant, but there it is.
> Another way to think of it, though, is the DSSSL vs. Scheme conundrum. DSSSL
> is not Scheme with SGML facilities. It is a declarative stylesheet language
> that has a Scheme-like expression language for programmatic extension. The
> syntax emphasizes the former which scares off people who really don't want
> any more functionality than CSS. 
> Let me repeat that until the day I die I will use fully-parenthesized Lisp-
> style DSSSL. I believe this to be the best syntax for those who are open-
> minded enough to try it. I just want the DSSSL model, the flow objects,
> the construction rules, modes, areas, ..., to be adopted beyond that 
> (unfortunately small) audience.

Well, I think "alternative syntaxes" is going to be a whole world of trouble.

R. Alexander Milowski   alex@xxxxxxxxxx
Copernican Solutions Incorporated                  (612) 379 - 3608

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