[erlang-questions] Strings - deprecated functions

Loïc Hoguin essen@REDACTED
Wed Nov 22 21:28:52 CET 2017

Calm down. Considering how ubiquitous the string module is, these 
functions are not going to be removed for at least a few years. That 
gives you plenty of time to understand the new string module.

Perhaps during this journey you can help make the documentation for the 
module more user friendly by sending patches or opening tickets at 
bugs.erlang.org. I'll admit that the current documentation does confuse 
me personally, though I've not needed to use it yet.

Unfortunately languages are complex and Unicode is therefore also 
complex. There's no real way around that. Even if you target English 
speakers it's likely that you will need Unicode, because many things 
require it like names or addresses for example. So even if it feels like 
you won't need it (and maybe you won't) it's a good idea to be ready for it.

I wouldn't say latin1 is widely used anymore. Most of everything uses 
Unicode nowadays. Nearly everything switched to Unicode, Erlang is one 
of the last. Even your email was sent encoded in utf-8.

On 11/22/2017 08:43 PM, lloyd@REDACTED wrote:
> Dear Gods of Erlang,
> "This module has been reworked in Erlang/OTP 20 to handle 
> unicode:chardata() 
> <http://erlang.org/doc/man/unicode.html#type-chardata> and operate on 
> grapheme clusters. The old functions 
> <http://erlang.org/doc/man/string.html#oldapi> that only work on Latin-1 
> lists as input are still available but should not be used. They will be 
> deprecated in Erlang/OTP 21."
> I'm sorry. I've brought up this issue before and got lots of push back.
> But every time I look up tried and true and long-used string functions 
> to find that they are deprecated and will be dropped in future Erlang 
> releases my blood pressure soars. Both my wife and my doctor tell me 
> that at my age this is a dangerous thing.
> I do understand the importance and necessity of Unicode. And applaud the 
> addition of Unicode functions.
> But the deprecated string functions have a long history. The English 
> language and Latin-1 characters are widely used around the world.
> Yes, it should be easy for programmers to translate code from one user 
> language to another. But I'm not convinced that the Gods of Erlang have 
> found the optimal solution by dropping all Latin-1 string functions.
> My particular application is directed toward English speakers. So, until 
> further notice, I have no use for Unicode.
> I don't want to sound like nationalist pig, but I think dropping the 
> Latin-1 string functions from future Erlang releases is a BIG mistake.
> I look up tokens/2, a function that I use fairly frequently, and I see 
> that it's deprecated. I look up the suggested replacement and I see 
> lexemes/2.
> So I ask, what the ... is a lexeme? I look it up in Merriam-Webster and 
> I see that a lexeme is  "a meaningful linguistic unit."
> Meaning what? I just want to turn "this and that" into "This And That."
> I read further in the Erlang docs and I see "grapheme cluster."  WHAT 
> I look up "grapheme" in Merriam-Webster. Oh it is now all so clear: "a 
> unit of a writing system."
> Ah yes, grapheme is defined in the docs. But I have to read and re-read 
> the definition to understand what the God's of Erlang mean by a 
> "graphene cluster." And I'm still not sure I get it.
> It sounds like someone took a linguistics class and is trying to show off.
> But now I've spent 30 minutes--- time that I don't have to waste trying 
> to figure out how do a simple manipulation of "this and that." Recurse 
> the next time I want to look up a string function in the Erlang docs.
> Keep the Latin-1 string functions. Put them in a separate library if 
> necessary. Or put the new Unicode functions in a separate library. But 
> don't arbitrarily drop them.
> Some folks have suggested that I maintain my own library of the 
> deprecated Latin1 functions. But why should I have to do that? How does 
> that help other folks with the same issue?
> Bottom line: please please please do not drop the existing Latin-1 
> string functions.
> Please don't.
> Best wishes,
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Loïc Hoguin

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