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[Caml-list] Re: Syntax Changes in OCaml
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Date: 2002-02-05 (11:23)
From: Markus Mottl <markus@o...>
Subject: Re: [Caml-list] Re: Syntax Changes in OCaml
On Mon, 04 Feb 2002, dbmcclain wrote:
> But this greater discussion has me wondering about whether you are
> talking of more egregious changes to the language syntax.... If so,
> it will certainly push me as a user to consider other alternatives. I
> don't wish to spend my time rewriting old code to keep up with a moving
> target language...

There may be a misunderstanding here: the problem with the recent changes,
even if they were rather innocuous, is that you really have to adapt your
sources. At least for me this was not a big deal, because I had mostly
avoided labels so far, but it would be a nightmare if large parts of
the syntax changed.

However, a shift to revised (or another) syntax as default wouldn't be
all this bad: the preprocessor would still handle "normal" syntax, which
means that you'd only have to feed your existing sources through the
preprocessor. This can be done by changing only one line in your Makefile.

You could even continue writing and maintaining code in "normal" syntax,
similar to those few people who are currently using revised syntax as
alternative - without problems other than "social" ones.

The only problem I can imagine for you is that you have to pass
maintainance of your source base to a young programmer who has only been
trained on revised syntax. But even then I don't think that this will be
too serious, because fixing bugs in a slightly different syntax isn't all
this difficult.  Mixing revised and normal syntax (in different files, of
course) is absolutely not a problem either: just add a comment to the top
of your files so that the right preprocessor can be chosen automagically
(as is being supported by OcamlMakefile, for example).

A sudden transition to revised syntax would probably cost me less than
a week, most of it due to getting used to the new syntax. I don't know
for sure, but this may be true for the majority of users.

Markus Mottl

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