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[Caml-list] Syntax
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Date: 2002-02-05 (14:49)
From: Markus Mottl <markus@o...>
Subject: Re: [Caml-list] Syntax
On Tue, 05 Feb 2002, Gerard Huet wrote:
> Until recently there was no point in pushing the revised syntax, because it 
> was very hard to teach the language when the system's printer used another 
> syntax than what you typed in. Now that there is smooth integration of 
> camlp4 with ocaml with the 3.04, there is no excuse not to use the much 
> superior revised syntax, in my opinion. Which does not mean that there 
> should be a big concerted effort to switch all our code from one syntax to 
> the next. 

The merging of camlp4 into the standard distribution and its integration
with the toplevel was definitely an important step. I also don't think
that there should be a "big concerted effort", but it might be a good
idea to provide for a "travel plan". Maybe something in the spirit of
the introduction of the Euro, e.g. "We are considering making revised
(or whatever) syntax the default on 01.01.2004." ;)

This would give people an incentive to start new projects in the new
syntax. Surely, it may be necessary to clean up revised syntax before,
too, to make it really shine.

> The crucial point is that we need good tutorials, reference manuals, and
> books in the revised syntax before being serious about "standardizing"
> in something else than the usual syntax. Once this material exists,
> then we can talk.

I agree that this is an absolutely necessary prerequisite. Pushing people
into the cold water without previous preperation will not make them happy.

> I suggest this syntax problem should be seriously considered, but as
> a long-term effort, encompassing development tools and documentation
> and training material. This is not a battle that can be won by one
> round of email flame.

Definitely. I somehow had the impression that the topic of discussion was
being pushed into the direction of "Let's change syntax now (or not).",
which was never my intention. I was merely asking for a plan concerning
future and possibly major syntax changes. The language maintainers would
be surely well-advised to consider this in the long-term.

Markus Mottl

Markus Mottl                                             markus@oefai.at
Austrian Research Institute
for Artificial Intelligence                  http://www.oefai.at/~markus
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