[eeps] A plea against trivial heterogeneity (eeps 21, 27, 28)

Dominic Williams <>
Fri Feb 20 01:09:36 CET 2009


I think a programming language should not provide several
ways of achieving the same thing, especially when the choice
is only a matter of taste.

As programmers, we waste too much time thinking, hesitating
or arguing about the totally trivial issues of style and
layout. Then, we are not comfortable reading, let alone
modifying, someone else's code. Code within the same product
looks different, or people are frustrated with having to
adjust to new conventions in a new project or company.

I would actually go so far as to welcome a compiler which
rejected code in which the layout (spaces, indentation etc)
was not "standard". Obviously, all editors could then
enforce the official layout. Then, all code would look
identical in those trivial aspects.

With that in mind, I am not favourable to the following

21: Optional trailing commas for lists and tuples
27: Multi-Parameter Typechecking BIFs
28: Optional leading semicolons for choices

Which all introduce an additional, optional syntax, which
some people will adopt while others will stick to the
existing syntax, leading to increased heterogeneity in
styles of coding.


Dominic Williams


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