[erlang-questions] erlang improvement - objective c (or smalltalk) syntax

Richard O'Keefe <>
Fri Jun 5 07:10:42 CEST 2009

On 5 Jun 2009, at 12:21 am, Vlad Dumitrescu wrote:
> erlIDE shows the function's documentation beside the list with
> completion suggestions, so the docs are never too far away.

That's fine for someone who is _writing_, and using erlIDE.
How exactly does it help someone who is _reading_ a listing
on the train home?

The thing about well-written Smalltalk (or Objective-C) code
is that it isn't just a matter of a helpful hand when you write,
the code is a heck of a lot easier to _read_.

Take as an example the statistics programming environment R.
In the Macintosh version, whenever you type <identifier>(,
the function's header pops up in a status line.  It's not so
large as to be obtrusive nor so small as to be unreadable.
It is indeed helpful when I'm writing my own R code, especially
throwaway command lines.  But it does nothing to help me read
someone _else's_ code.  It's also a little tricky to get right
with nested functions -- if you declare an inner function with
the same name as an outer one, which since R has thousands of
functions is quite easy, the prompt you get is the one for the
wrong function.  To get it right would mean understanding even
more about R syntax than the compiler does (you'd have to
understand incomplete definitions, which the compiler doesn't).

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