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[Caml-list] otags problem
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Date: 2002-02-04 (17:01)
From: Daniel de Rauglaudre <daniel.de_rauglaudre@i...>
Subject: Re: [Caml-list] syntax change (was: camlp4o problem)

On Mon, Feb 04, 2002 at 05:25:13PM +0100, Markus Mottl wrote:

> > There are very few users interested in the revised syntax.
> Because it is not standard.

What do you call "standard"? Yes, my revised syntax is "standard": it
is "standard" Camlp4: the sources of Camlp4 are in the revised syntax.

If you speak of "standard", somebody told a few time ago in this
mailing list: "why the syntax of OCaml is not the "standard" one?":
because it was not the one of "Standard" ML.

What is the standard? Except "what most of the people use"? I mean
the programmers in OCaml.

> If I can use camlp4 conveniently to work with my existing sources as if
> no change had happened, I wouldn't mind, but I fear that not everything
> would work smoothly right now.

I compile the whole compiler with -pp camlp4o, the otherlibs included
without any problem. I am pretty sure that it would work for your code
with minor changes which would remain backward compatible. Try it out.

> It should at least in principle be possible (though a lot of work)
> to design all language tools in such a way that they accept ASTs
> annotated with position information (for exact error messages), thus
> making them completely independent of concrete syntax.

There is a tool which works like that: Camlp4. You get the position
location exactly of your input file.

I even tried with "zoggy", Maxence Guesdon's program: his input is
XML. When you compile the file, if there are typing errors, they
are shown in the XML file.

> > And even if you want to convert to it, what is your reaction if the
> > new version of OCaml has a bug in a part very important for you?
> I don't quite understand this argument: bugs can happen during every
> change, what is the problem with syntax changes in particular?

The problem is that if you changed your syntax, you cannot "downgrade"
your compiler to the previous version. If you see the problem three
months after having upgraded, it is too late to change: you cannot
distribute your software to your customers with your bug fixed, then
your customers must continue with the same version, then the missiles
are launched in the next full moon, then the world explodes.

> I disagree here. People need a "soft kick" to change.

No: people will accept a change if they need some. But I am quite sure
that many people think this: "yes there is a problem of syntax in the
language, but not so important".

I often heard the argument: "it is only syntax!". A certain "Markus
Mottl" telling a few mails ago: "Though semantics is usually
considered the more interesting part of languages..."

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