RE: indentation (was Re: About the article) in "The DSSSList Digest V3 #27"

Subject: RE: indentation (was Re: About the article) in "The DSSSList Digest V3 #27"
From: "Frank A. Christoph" <christo@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Thu, 6 May 1999 13:30:07 +0900
Mark Wroth wrote:
> 	But it seems to me the point Didier is trying to make is not that
> "block style" is morally superior in some sense, but that it is better
> suited to a specific purpose: teaching/selling DSSSL outside the existing
> community.  I'm inclined to agree.  While there are LISP/Scheme
> programmers
> out there, C, C++, Java etc. appear to be much more common, and (in my
> moderate experience) the block style is much more common.  To the extent
> that's true (and I will grant that it varies with the particular
> audience),
> changing the style of "blocking" as you try to teach someone a new concept
> unrelated to the indentation/blocking/grouping style seems to be making
> things more difficult for the student than is strictly necessary.  If the
> idea were to persuade the student that this is a hard subject,
> that might be
> a good thing ....

1) In making the transition from an imperative, object-oriented, Algol-style
language like C++ or Java to a declarative, functional, LISP-style language
like Scheme, syntax is the least important issue. In fact, it is practically
a truism that if the word "syntax" appears in any list ranked by importance,
it always appears at the bottom.

2) I feel that when learning a new language it's best to adopt the stylistic
conventions of its most experienced practitioners. (I believe that this
applies to natural languages as well.) It's pretty safe to assume that they
have good reasons for preferring that style, and obviously it has stood them
in good stead, or otherwise they would not be using that language and/or
style. Observe that people who have been writing LISP or Scheme for a long
time all use the abbreviated blocking style (the one not used in C).

3) Anyone who dismisses a programming language purely because its syntax is
"weird" is probably incapable of making significant contributions to its
code base anyway.

4) Marketing a programming language on the merits of its syntax is a weak
and transparent ploy, likely to incur suspicion and distrust among
knowledgeable programmers, the people you want to attract the most.
Convincing expositions are based on factual evidence and, in their absence,
clear-cut, representative motivating examples, not presentation style.

5) That said, I really don't care what style you use or advocate, because if
I have to look at it, I can always pretty-print it first anyway.


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