[erlang-questions] Why we need a -module() attribute?

Loïc Hoguin essen@REDACTED
Fri Feb 19 12:32:11 CET 2016

I've mentioned that at the beginning of the thread. We're going circles 
now. :-)

I really don't think getting rid of the mandatory -module attribute is 
such a hard problem to solve...

On 02/19/2016 12:22 PM, Pierre Fenoll wrote:
> What about:
> Optional -module attribute
> +
> ASCII-only lowercase filenames, composed of only chars non-escapable in
> a terminal (\\, spaces, controls, …)
> ?
> Cheers,
> --
> Pierre Fenoll
> On 19 February 2016 at 10:20, <ok@REDACTED
> <mailto:ok@REDACTED>> wrote:
>     > Greetings,
>     >
>     > Given the problem with case-sensitive file systems, and identifiers in
>     > code, why not ignore case?
>     Sadly, it's not that simple.  Consider
>     a. i
>     b. İ
>     c. ı
>     d. I
>     Which of these count as equivalent-except-for-case depends on
>     the natural language they are written in.
>     It's not as if case-insensitivity were all that natural for
>     natural languages either.  "THE" is now "TUE" but "the" has not changed.
>     A UN-man is not an un-man.  LAX is not particularly lax.
>     And to get away from initials,
>        Q: What's that band?
>        A: The Who.
>        Q: The who?
>        A: That's right.
>     And I'll never forget Mrs Which, Mrs What, and Mrs Who from
>     "A Wrinkle in Time".
>     > It seems to work for Eiffel. No results from searching for Eiffel and
>     > problems with case. It is not a large language, so the number of people
>     > that have been exposed to case insensitivity is small.
>     I suspect that most Eiffel programs are still written in Western
>     European languages for which Latin-1 works well, except perhaps
>     for strings.
>     >
>     > This would not work for Erlang, but new languages could try.
>     Unicode makes some complicated things possible and some "simple"
>     things extremely difficult.  Dealing with alphabetic case is one
>     of them.
>     One of the issues with file systems and alphabetic case is that it's
>     just not clear what actually happens.  For example, in a Unix-like
>     system where a file name is a sequence of bytes excluding 0 and 47,
>     whether two such sequences should count as equivalent depends on
>     what the encoding is deemed to be.  I have certainly run into trouble
>     with file names written in one encoding being displayed unsuitably in
>     another, and the encoding is not (except in classic MacOS) something
>     that is stored with the file name.  (I believe MacOS X uses UTF8.)
>     But if we say "let file names be interpreted as UTF-8", we are *still*
>     left with the problem that case equivalence is determined by
>     natural language, not by encoding alone.
>     One problem with case-insensitive languages is that the same
>     identifier may appear as READSYMBOL, readsymbol, ReadSymbol,
>     or even ReadSYmbol.  Some languages have dealt with this by saying
>     that you can use any one capitalisation pattern you like: a name
>     that appears in a scope must be capitalised identically at every
>     occurrence.  (That amounts to saying that you must write so that
>     your program would work equally well in a case sensitive or a
>     case insensitive language.)
>     Then too, there are file names that are not legal identifiers.
>     Taking Java as an example, what should we do with a :@%%.java
>     file?  Or even 2016.java?
>     Like I said before, tying file names and module (or class) names
>     together is like holding a chain-saw by the blade.
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Loïc Hoguin
Author of The Erlanger Playbook,
A book about software development using Erlang

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