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[Caml-list] Re: Syntax Changes in OCaml
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Date: 2002-02-05 (12:36)
From: Markus Mottl <markus@o...>
Subject: Re: [Caml-list] Re: Syntax Changes in OCaml
On Tue, 05 Feb 2002, Daniel de Rauglaudre wrote:
> There is another point preventing us to change the syntax: there is
> no consensus here about how the syntax must be. I made my choices with
> the revised syntax, but somebody says that "this construction is ugly",
> somebody else says that "that one (another one) is weird", and so on...
> No convergence. And people ends with "pfff... this is *only* syntax".

When I used the term "revised syntax" I was implicitly including possible
changes to satisfy the majority. And I'd never say "this is *only*
syntax". "It's *only* syntax" that allows you to actually write down
your programs at all.

> If the architects don't agree of how the house must be, there is no
> chance that the house be built. Therefore there is no plan to propose
> or impose (like you would like) a new syntax.

I'd suggest that the "revisionists" should publically discuss how
they would want syntax to evolve. Other people will surely follow the
discussion and comment on it.

> I don't want that people imposes me to use objects and labels, and I
> shall not impose people to use the revised syntax.

To some extent this is comparable, I agree: if one isn't used to
e.g. objects (or higher-order modules, for example), understanding
other people's code may become even more difficult than if it were in
another syntax.

But there is also a difference: if I decided to use objects from
today on, no automatic tool will get reasonably readable code in, say,
"module style" out of my sources, which is not true for purely syntactic

Therefore, I'd propose that pretty-printing technology be even further
improved, especially what concerns adaptability to user preferences. Then
it would become really easy for people to switch to the syntax they like
rather than having to stick to the one they started out with or the one
which is considered "standard".

Markus Mottl

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