Re: simple vs complex languages

5 May 2003 23:35:26 -0400

          From comp.compilers

Related articles
Re: simple vs complex languages (2003-04-27)
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Re: simple vs complex languages (2003-05-05)
Re: simple vs complex languages (Albert Hofkamp) (2003-05-06)
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Newsgroups: comp.compilers
Date: 5 May 2003 23:35:26 -0400
Organization: - Les Ours
References: 03-04-095 03-04-112
Keywords: parse
Posted-Date: 05 May 2003 23:35:26 EDT

>>>>> "Ralph" == Ralph P Boland <> writes:

        Ralph> wrote:
        >> Robert wrote
        >>> The thing that bothers me about all this fancy parsing
        >>> technology we have developed over the past few decades is that
        >>> it is solving an artificial problem. If we didn't design our
        >>> programming languages to have such doggone complicated syntax,
        >>> then we would be happy to use hand-written recursive-descent
        >>> parsers. ...

        Ralph> Actually I think that newer programming languages are
        Ralph> (mostly) pretty easy to parse. If its LR(1) (and
        Ralph> admittedly some languages are not) then its pretty easy to
        Ralph> parse. [...]

I agree with Ralph and the original poster, but there is one
additional point about computer languages: they are still, like in the
1950's, plain textual files. Of course, every language has its syntax
and semantics, but we still are using editors, and more importantly,
the model of sources files, conceptually the same as punched card

I really think it is a pity that no language offers a fancier
interface than plain textual files, typed thru an editor. The syntax
directed editors of the late 1980's are gone.

It is a pity that no [major] programming language accept HTML pages
(or even .doc documents,...), or even provide its own fancy editor. In
particular, integrating some ideas from the literate programming
movement inside programming languages is not done. Comments are still
simple sequence of characters (perhaps with a specific markup like in
javadoc or ocamldoc). Our program sources are not hypertextual (even
if a few research papers mention this).

I think that is is mostly a chicken & egg issue: no languages is
non-plain-textual because no editor is able to edit them, and vice
versa. (and also, major editors like emacs offer sufficient "modes"
for programming languages).

Perhaps also researching on newer forms (hypertexts, fancy editors) of
source program is not fancy enough for academics (or for funding). I
still find it a pity.

I'm dreaming of a major [opensource preferably] fancy (perhaps
functional) language with a better editing mode than Emacs. I'll
probably dream for a long while!

email: basile<at>starynkevitch<dot>net
aliases: basile<at>tunes<dot>org = bstarynk<at>nerim<dot>net
8, rue de la Fa´encerie, 92340 Bourg La Reine, France
[There have certainly been visual languages with spiffy editors to
manage them. They don't seem to have solved any problems interesting
enough for people to keep using them. -John]

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