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[franz!fimass!jkf: Where we stand ]

Date: Tuesday, 27 May 1986  02:02-EDT
 From: franz!fimass!jkf at kim.Berkeley.EDU (John Foderaro)
To:   Scott E. Fahlman <ucbkim!C.CS.CMU.EDU!Fahlman at kim.Berkeley.EDU>
Re:   Where we stand 

  I believe that using the Steele book, or any other document of that
form, would be a mistake for a basis for a standard.  The book is
written in good English which has its advantages (being thoroughly
enjoyable and subtly witty) and its disadvantages (being incompletly
specified and at times totally ambiguous).   What we need is a 
excruciatingly dull document which has the form:
1. definitions of terms
2. functions and special forms, alphabetically.
3. special symbols

Each function is defined using simple English and the terms defined in
the beginning.     
Appendicies could be added to flesh out sections of functions (such
as the error system or defstruct), but in all cases the official 
definition is in the main part of the manual.

The form of the function descriptions could be in a neutral format 
 from which one could convert it to any of the popular typesetting
languages using a filter.
For example:

function: cons
arguments: x (any-lisp-object)
	   y (any-lisp-object)
action: Allocate and return a new object of type cons initiatialing the car
	slot to x and the cdr slot to y.

This would help promote an international standard since it will make
the translation to other languages easier.  I've met someone who
is translating the Steele book to Japanese and I was suprised at the
number of important concepts he has wrong (and his readers will get

					john foderaro
					franz inc.