[Haskell-cafe] the problem of design by negation

Conal Elliott conal at conal.net
Thu May 28 00:59:23 EDT 2009

Thanks for bringing in this angle, David.

My preference is for honest and humble practice and documentation of
negative design.  Instead of saying that something "won't work", "can't
work", "is impossible" etc (or rephrased via "must", "only", etc), I'd like
honest admissions like "I couldn't figure out X", "I got stuck on Y", etc.
After all, someone else might get further.  Or, in the rare cases, when
something actually is impossible, say so prove it.

On Wed, May 27, 2009 at 8:34 PM, David Fox <ddssff at gmail.com> wrote:

> What I do like about this so-called "negative" approach is that it
> represents a part of a program's documentation that is usually omitted.  You
> can look at the code and see exactly how and (to a certain extent) why the
> program does what it does, but what you can't see is all the things it
> doesn't do, and the reasons it doesn't do them.  This can be extremely
> important to know when you are thinking about modifying a program.  The
> change you are considering may have already been tried and rejected, but
> unless these sorts of negative decisions are documented in the software you
> may end up spinning your wheels.
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