[Haskell-beginners] general observation about programming
dennis.raddle at gmail.com
Thu Feb 25 00:03:10 UTC 2016
This is more about programming in general than Haskell, although Haskellers
probably know it well.
I don't claim to have expert knowledge on this, but I'm gradually getting
better at it.
When I set out to write a program, or refactor a program, or modify a
program, it helps to set out my thinking in a clear way. And how I make it
clear is to document my thoughts.
An outline is one good way to organize thoughts and is probably my main
tool. But good English prose is also helpful.
The key factor is "editing." In what sense do I mean that? Good writers do
it, and the Haskell documentation does it. I mean (1) brevity and (2) good
flow. To achieve brevity, you must think about the essence of each
statement and trim away the unnecessary stuff. Good flow refers to how the
document builds up and modifies your concepts as you read it. A document
can actually mirror an effective learning process, or influence and change
I work with my documentation, making several editing passes. By the time
I'm done, I am in a great position to write a concise and flexible program.
It's interesting that not only is Haskell a concise language, but the
Haskell library documentation is concise. Contrast that with the Python
documentation which often wanders about into areas that are irrelevant--it
could easily be cut into one third its present size.
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