[erlang-questions] Atom Unicode Support

Hugo Mills hugo@REDACTED
Tue Feb 2 14:35:36 CET 2016

On Tue, Feb 02, 2016 at 07:26:25AM -0500, Fred Hebert wrote:
> On 02/02, José Valim wrote:
> >>Are you ready to edit chineese or thai?
> >
> >I can already write atoms in Afrikaans, Albanian, Basque, Breton, Corsican,
> >Danish, English, Faroese, Galician, German, Icelandic, Indonesian, Italian,
> >Kurdish, Leonese, Luxembourgish, Malay, Manx, Norwegian, Occitan,
> >Portuguese, Rhaeto-Romanic, Scottish Gaelic, Spanish, Swahili, Swedish,
> >Walloon.
> >
> >Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ISO/IEC_8859-1
> >
> >And I can only effectively speak 3 of those. There are already a lot of
> >programmers who can write in their own language and I don't expect to edit
> >their code.
> >
> >Not only that, there are other programming languages which have already
> >adopted Unicode Support and the amount of times I had to read code in a
> >language I don't understand has been exactly 0.
> >
> I want to also voice my support for Unicode support.
> I don't know why everytime unicode is brought up in this mailing
> list a bunch of people suddenly fear having to edit code in a
> language they don't understand.  This has been possible already for
> a long time (as pointed out by the list of languages José added
> there). I think last time someone was being preemptively angry
> because they could be buying a business where code was in a
> different language and then they would be screwed! The horror.

   As a native English speaker, I've encountered code in a non-English
language (Greek, transliterated to ASCII, in this case) precisely
once, and that was merely a dismal (failed) attempt at hiding the fact
that they'd copied their coursework from someone else, rather than a
genuine need or desire to use Greek.

   As an (ex-)mathematician, I really like the idea of having support
for non-ASCII symbols in code. It's not something to use as a matter
of course, but sometimes, very occasionally, I want to be able to use
notation in my code which is closer to the way I'd write it down on a
piece of paper.

   So, yes, plenty of encouragement from the peanut gallery, with an
observation that the cased nature of Roman script is the exception
rather than the norm. Using a case distinction for the atom/variable
distinction in Erlang is likely to be problematic, and is probably
going to need some serious thought about how to solve it, possibly on
a per-script basis.


> I've given presentations in a local user group where I used French
> for my programs. Nobody here has had to suffer through a non-english
> language when working or communicating with me though. It turns out
> people tend to be reasonable when it comes to communicating with
> various communities and preparing for that.
> I can vow to try to keep it so everyone's eyes don't get to suffer
> the view of my native language. There's plenty of other ways to make
> code unreadable anyway[1].
> If the objective of refusing unicode would be to avoid making code
> unreadable, I'd suggest we also ban one-letter variables and atoms
> because they are clearly not English words (aside from 'A' and 'I',
> and maybe 'O' if you're feeling poetic in your interjections) and
> therefore would be too confusing.
> Regards,
> Fred.
> [1]: http://ferd.ca/obfuscation.html
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Hugo Mills             | Klytus, I'm bored. What plaything can you offer me
hugo@REDACTED carfax.org.uk | today?
http://carfax.org.uk/  |
PGP: E2AB1DE4          |                      Ming the Merciless, Flash Gordon
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