AW: AW: Editor Tab Expansion

D. Tweed
Tue, 10 Dec 2002 10:39:41 +0000 (GMT)

I think I was a bit inflamatory in my previous post because I was fuming
about something else in my life; I stand by the factual content of what I
said but wish I'd phrased it much less confrontationally.

On Mon, 9 Dec 2002, matt hellige wrote:
> > You seem to be saying that layout should
> > be banished because there's a set of people (of undetermined size) who
> > would like Haskell were they to encounter it, except for that darned
> > optional layout rule interefering with the ability to choose a personal
> > interpretation for what the ASCII tab character should mean.
> > 
> please do not discount this argument. the group of people who are, for
> one reason or another, not members of the haskell community is not a
> vocal group, nor are they well represented. however, they are the
> majority. if there is interest in promoting haskell among those who
> currently don't use it, which there seems to be, some time needs to be
> spent either soliciting opinions from people outside the haskell
> community, or guessing what those opinions would be.

The point I was trying to make was that I'm not sure how big the block of
poeple for whom the big problem is layout. I've supervised lots of
undergraduate labs and found many people who absolutely don't like Haskell
for many reasons, but I can't say I've encountered anyone for whom the
layout rule was part of the reason for dislike; the biggest one was always
that they never seemed to develop a mental model of programming
functionally rather than in the procedural, variable based way they were
used to. (Almost everyone had a steep learning curve deciphering how error
messages involving missing semi-colons map to bad layout, but after a
while it wasn't the layout that they gravitate to as the thing they have
issues with.) I'd just about be able to accept elimination of the layout
rule syntax for Haskell if there was evidence that it's a significant
problem that stops Haskell being adopted. But given that I feel layout is
a _really_ good thing this has to be _established in a meaningful way_,
not just plucked out of the air on the basis of a a couple of opinions.

> clearly, it's a tough thing to do well. many of the opinions of people
> who aren't using haskell now may not be particularly relevant to the
> future direction of the language. however, it they're completely
> ignored, the language may never be accepted. this is the dilemma of
> all software designers, and only those who have no need for actual
> users can afford to ignore it.

Certainly (with the slight proviso that I'd specify `informed, considered

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