[FoRK] Re: Arc's out, Nu vs. newLISP, and a retort to Paul Graham's elitism

Ken Meltsner <meltsner at alum.mit.edu> on Wed Jan 30 07:42:47 PST 2008

Leaving out Unicode is certainly forgiveable.  But it's definitely a
symptom of something bigger.

One of my big pet peeves is when programmers create XML text by
concatenating strings.  It looks like it works OK, but it leads to all
sorts of pain down the road.  I'm not even talking about the obvious
"what if the user's name has an ampersand?" problem.

Now, it isn't rocket science to generate XML with a parser library or
something similar.  Heck, it's not rocket science to write a proper
string -> XML text conversion method.  And yet people who don't
understand XML persist in treating it like it's just ASCII with angle
brackets.

There are several languages that support XML within the language
itself -- it doesn't get in the way when you're just "exploring."  It
does mean that when it comes time to work with XML that some other
program might have to read, the programmer is likely to get it right.

I think it's the same thing here.  We expect the language designer to
put in the hard work needed to make sure that when [feature X] is
needed, it works correctly.  Aside from any issues as to Arc's novelty
(or lack thereof), it's clear that Graham has taken the "worse is
better" philosophy to heart.  Which might be OK if this were five
weeks after Arc was announced, but not five years.

Ken Meltsner

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