[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

Re: Defining readers and writers in DEFCLASS or with separate forms

   Date: 	Wed, 31 Oct 1990 13:45:00 PST
   From: <Moon@STONY-BROOK.SCRC.Symbolics.COM>

   This is fine for implementors but ignores the issue what language
   programmers use to communicate with each other.  It's nice to have a
   standard for the surface syntax of Lisp forms so that programmers can
   read each others' programs.  I suppose you coudl argue that publication
   should be in a machine-readable form which each reader translates to
   their favorite surface syntax (using a program) before reading it.

I could and I would.  In at least two ways.  First, one of the best
things about (well-done) structure editors is that they let each reader
look at code formatted according to their personal preferences --- even
code originally written by someone else.  If you like your IF statements
formatted the "other" way, you can see them that way, even in code you
didn't write.  If you edit code someone else wrote, then when they go
back to look at it, they will see it in their preferred formatting.
This can be carried forth to other kinds of things, like the number of
semi-colons that introduce a comment (or for that matter whether
comments are delineated with semi-colons or some other way entirely).
(Just think of all the fights that preempts!)

Second, except for the rare occasions when it appears in a paper or
book, "publication" of code is already in a machine readable form.  Its
just that our familiarity with ASCII somehow makes us think of it as
being somehow less encoded than format like the one I am suggesting.  In
some sense it is less encoded---the program that decodes it is probably
simpler than the program that decodes the representation I am
suggesting.  But, we still need that program.  A floppy disk without a
machine and appropriate software to read it is pretty opaque.