[Haskell] Re: Use of tab characters in indentation-sensitive code

Ben Rudiak-Gould benrg at dark.darkweb.com
Sun Jan 25 15:09:25 EST 2004

On Sun, 25 Jan 2004, Sean L. Palmer wrote:

> Joking aside, surely you intelligent people realize that the internals of a
> file format have nothing whatsoever to do with the user interface of the
> editing tool.  Something like this would be completely transparent *if* you
> used the right tools.

Wait a second. Aren't you the one who suggested HTML? HTML is a plain-text
format. It's not a collection of editing tools on top of an opaque file

Yes, HTML specifies certain sequences like <i> ... </i> to delimit nested
subblocks. In Haskell source code, those sequences include { ... } and
{- ... -}. If you want to think in terms of markup, Haskell already has

There are GUI programmer's editors that understand source code formats the
same way that GUI HTML editors understand HTML. They highlight keywords
and comment blocks, let you jump to the definition point of any
identifier, and so on. The source code they show you tends to look a lot
like the underlying text format, but there's no inherent need for that; I
just think that no one's found anything substantially better.

I think a hierarchical folding editor for Haskell is a great idea. It
would read source code with layout for compatibility, but the code it
wrote would always have explicit { ; } tags. Those low-level tags wouldn't
show up in the GUI, which would use a higher-level representation, perhaps
something like Mathcad.

I'm sure lots of people would use it. The problem, as always, is that
someone has to hunker down and write the thing.

Changing the markup syntax in the underlying text format won't help
anything, and going to a binary format would be even worse. It's the tools
that matter.

> This just shows how deeply ingrained the ascii plain text mindset is in the
> programming community.  I don't expect anything like this to ever fly, for
> this reason.  You guys won't let it.  :(

Are you absolutely 100% sure you aren't suffering from a "web mindset"?

-- Ben

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