[bitc-dev] White space

Jonathan S. Shapiro shap at eros-os.org
Tue Aug 10 10:16:51 PDT 2010

On Mon, Aug 9, 2010 at 5:30 PM, wren ng thornton <wren at freegeek.org> wrote:

> Often, succinctness breeds legibility. By reducing syntactic overhead,
> readers can focus on the real content of the code.

Often. But it's more a case of matching the syntactic overhead to the
concept overhead. Sometimes, syntax helps. Currying is a case where I'm not
convinced that less is better.

> Which isn't to say that all languages are successful in their choices of
> where and how to be succinct. To pick an old example, C allows braces to
> be optional in certain constructs in an effort to make code more
> succinct. Unfortunately, this led to endemic bugs..., and the defensive
> coding against these bugs results in more boilerplate and reduced
> legibility than if braces were just required in the first place.

I'm not sure there is a consensus on this, but I see the point. This is a
case where the layout rules work well if they work at all - the problem
being Unicode.

And just to throw out a radical thought about Unicode, perhaps the Unicode
problem isn't a problem. Outside of Japan, most of the code I have seen is
English with occasional local-language identifiers. It is hard to know if
this reflects the fact that English is the main language of computing, or if
it instead reflects the historical limitation of programming languages to
7-bit ASCII input. In Japan, the practice of coding in Kanji seems to have
declined, but it is hard to know whether that is a data point or how to read
it. One issue is that programs are increasingly written by cross-national
teams, and this tends to force English as the common language.

And, frankly, Awk and Sed aren't exactly
> legible either.

Oh now your just being mean. Why, Awk is a *model* of literate

> (Full disclosure: I was an avid Perl junkie prior to discovering Haskell :)

Everybody needs a write-only language. But the original perl install script
was worth running multiple times.

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